15 November 2006

From the archives

This post is strictly entre nous. Because if Madame finds out I’ve done this she’ll be mildy irritated. I’ve decided for today I’m going to share with you my favourite Froosh Bamboo post from the archives. 'Of closets and cabinets' is ruled out, and widely read I expect. So, I couldn’t decide between ‘Vouchers for Honours (or squirrels eat Tony Blair)’ or the window on her world post ‘Some things I learnt at the weekend’ or a squirrel post 'A surfeit of Squirrels (3)'.

I think we should start a campaign to bring back the squirrel posts and for that reason the winner of today’s post from the archives is ‘Vouchers for Honours (or squirrels eat Tony Blair) which is also nicely topical still:

The doorbell of Froosh Towers rings. Froosh opens the front door
Froosh: Hello? Oh dear.
Man: Hello there, happy voter. My name, is, Tony Blair. You might recognise me from, such television shows as; Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway and Tony and June, where I proved, myself, to be a man, of the people.
Froosh: No. But I do recognise you from such atrocities as the Iraq War and Crisis in the NHS where you proved yourself to be a complete twat.


Tony Blair: Well. Never mind, that now. Yeah? I would like to; speak to your, daughter. Please.
Froosh: What for?
Tony Blair: Well, I have the offer of, you know, a lifetime for her.
Froosh: And that is?
Tony Blair: I’m aware that; recently, she has come into a bit of money. Right? Yeah?
Froosh: Are you talking about her child trust fund voucher?
Tony Blair: That’s right. Thanks to Gordon. Well, you know, I was thinking that if, she was to give that to me, I would give her a peerage. What do you think? Yeah?
Froosh: A peerage?
Tony Blair: Yeah. Why not?
Froosh: You want her child trust fund voucher and in return you’ll give her a peerage?
Tony Blair: Yeah. What? It’s a win win.
Froosh: So it’s vouchers for honours now is it?
Tony Blair: Yeah, the whole; cash for honours thing? Didn’t really, work out. Poor, Lord, Levy. Terrible business. But. The party or whatever it is, won’t fund, itself. Will it? Do you know what I mean?


Froosh: Why can’t you speak properly? It’s virtually impossible to understand anything that you say.
Tony Blair: Whatever. Yeah? Anyway can I speak to your daughter or what? I’m a; busy man, you know. Busy. I’ve got to get back to number ten, Cherie will have finished, warming the toilet seat for me, by, now.
Froosh: No you can’t speak to her.
Tony Blair: So, you don’t want her; to have a peerage, then?
Froosh: No. I don’t.
Tony Blair: I see. Can I have the voucher anyway?
Froosh: I’m closing the door now.
Tony Blair: No, don’t. Please. I need, the money. Cherie wants, me, to buy her some, polo ponies.
Froosh: Get your head out of the way.
Tony Blair: You know. Please.
Froosh: No. Are you crying? Jesus, don't cry.
Tony Blair: What about; Leo’s school, fees? Please.
Froosh: No.Tony Blair: Give me; the voucher. I’m the Prime Minister, you know, you have to; do what I say.
Froosh: I will not hesitate to set the squirrels on you. They haven’t tasted human flesh in a while.
Tony Blair: I’m not, scared, of a couple of; squirrels.
Froosh: That’s fighting talk, you know.
Tony Blair: Bring it, on, yeah?

(A cloud covers the sun as the birds cease their happy chatter. The sound of thousands of tiny footsteps is audible in the distance. It is a sound to chill the blood; menacing and portentous.)

Tony Blair: Oh, dear.
Froosh: You could try offering them a peerage each. There’s more than one way to reform the House of Lords, after all.

13 November 2006

Okay. It is brilliant.

It is easy to let people ruin you day, I’m sure we all know that, but it’s also easy to make sure that you have a good day too. I’ve had a lovely day today. I got up early when they weather was still crisp and went for a walk. Then I did a bit of work. I get paid to be e-nosy basically. There is no such thing as anonymity on the internet you know. But this is a subject for another post. Anyway, then I went to my new favourite café – Brilliant Kids in Kensal Rise. I know that Madame has told you all about this, waxing lyrical about how magnificent it is, and took some photographs but I had such a fantastic late breakfast there I thought they deserved another plug. I had the most fantastic Eggs Benedict I have ever eaten. Even better than Penks in Queens Park. I think this is Madame's actual favourite but I can't remember. I will check for you if you want.

The best thing about Brilliant Kids is that you can sit there for hours with a latte and they don’t make you feel like a sex pest. I think I worry about this. A man with my hair has to be concerned about these things.

So, I’d turned down trips there before. There was always something better on the television you see. The food is great, the people who run it are lovely, and it puts you in such a great mood it’ll carry you through the day. It’s worth a trip even if you aren’t local. Even from Penzance I’d come. If you are one of the increasing number of people who arrived here by searching for the café, we really, really recommend it. Turn of this blog and run there, run like the wind.

Don’t tell Froosh I love it. She’ll give me that look and say ‘I told you so.’ Over and over again.

10 November 2006

No sex please we're Pablo

I notice that on the full and forceful list of instructions I got from Madame she didn’t write ‘don’t turn FB into a sexblog’. Not a fan of the genre, our Froosh. She didn’t put it on the list I suspect because she knows me so well.

You see I dislike sex. Intensely. I never have any and I never want to have any. This is unusual for a man of my age and vigour. And, if I may be so bold, considerable attractiveness. I find it gruesome. A gross intrusion of my emotional and personal space.

The last sexual encounter I had was a few years ago now. He was on shore leave and lived with his mother. We went back to the mother’s and his single bed had a gay pride flag duvet cover. ‘The action man one is in the wash,’ he said. I didn’t hang around long enough the next morning to find out if he was telling the truth.

I always describe myself as bisexual, if asked. But really I ought to say asexual. I’ve tried this honest approach a couple of times and, believe me, it’s not worth the aggro – how ever accurate it might be. People either think you’ve been abused (I haven’t) or you’re some kind of sex pest on the run for the law (I’m not).

I think this is because our society is so obsessed with sex that people find it unfathomable if someone says they just aren’t interested in it. Not as an activity, not as a concept and certainly not as a marketing ploy.

I haven’t been in marks and sparks since those adverts started up. And since Madame pointed out that the lady who does the announcement on the Bakerloo line does it in the style of the marks and sparks lady I can’t travel from Kilburn Park to Charing Cross without wanting to poke my eyes out. This is not just Maida Vale….

09 November 2006

Square eyes

I love television. I will watch anything, I’m not fussy. I only have two rules: no game shows and I’m not allowed to switch it on before six o’clock. I have been known to get round rule 2 by not switching it off. Sort of like drinking yourself sober. Rule 1 I bend because really Strictly Come Dancing is a game show but it’s for charity and it’s reality television as well. Therefore allowed. And come on, Anton du Beke? The man is a god.

Although I can not bear Big Brother. I can manage Celebrity Big Brother, but only if there are no civilians in it. If I want to expose myself to the detritus of humanity I will go to a Wetherspoons pub.

I have been known to turn down a perfectly respectable night on the town for a night in front of the great black teat in the corner of my living room. Flat, wide screen just gagging to reveal all the digital delights. Even a night on the town with Madame.

It is my love of television that makes me so incensed when presented with the shambolic programme making that the (Russell) Brand Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) are so fond of. No to Robin Hood, No to Doctor Who and No, sweet jesus no, to Torchwood. Who is responsible for these aberrations? Do they have no idea? You should put people who actually watch television in charge of making it, not people who only do the job so they can tell people at dinner parties.

They, the BBC, have redeemed themselves slightly by introducing Ros to Spooks – surely everyone loves Hermione – and the miracle hour that is The Amazing Mrs Pritchard. Fabulous. I can’t wait for the DVD.

Channel 4, what ever happened to them? they used to be so special. I mourn for them. I really do. More 4? less 4 more like.

07 November 2006

An angel at the table

La Madame Bamboo is currently, how shall we say? Indisposed? Curiously absent? Whatever it is, and you may choose just make it glamorous and mysterious, I have been given the keys to the kingdom and shall be your Guest Editor for the next couple of weeks. Maybe longer, who knows? I may get my feet so far under the table they never see the light of day again. She’ll never get her blog back. Mwah ha ha ha ha.

I make light of a heavy responsibility, of course. I have been left with a set of full and forceful directions. Beginning with ‘don’t annoy my regular reader’ (singular – I don’t believe that, for a minute), moving on to ‘don’t make my regular reader like you better than me' and ending with ‘fuck it up and I’ll kill you’. Nice. And she looks so harmless in actual life. Not real life. It isn’t a real life you know, we are at most merely actual.

Hang on, I’m just checking to see if ‘don’t get all high falutin and philosophical’ is there. No. No, it isn’t. That’s good news then.

Anyway, to summarise: trust you flourish, sorry there’s been no posting and I’ll be back shortly with some devilish distractions for you, most esteemed regular reader.

I've got a label, now I'm off to get myself cartoonificated.

31 October 2006


An Amnesty International appeal, launched on Sunday, is calling on people who use the internet to sign a pledge supporting an end to internet censorship and oppression. Irrepressible.info is a web based campaign seeking the release of a number of prisoners of conscience, people who have been jailed for using the internet to voice their opinions. They are also calling on IT companies like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo to do more to protect people’s right to ‘seek and receive information and to express their peaceful beliefs online without fear or interference’.

People like Shi Tao. A Chinese journalist who is serving 10 years, doing forced labour in terrible conditions in Chishan prison. He emailed an American pro-democracy site about warnings from the Bejing news authority asking news outlet not to cover the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Shi Tao sent the email from his Yahoo account. A year later he was in court standing trial for ‘illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities’. Evidence provided by Yahoo’s Chinese partner was used to convict him.

Shi Tao’s wife now endures frequent bullying and interrogation by the authorities and her work place is demanding that she seek a divorce. His parents have also been watched and harassed at work and at home.

Although cases in China are currently receiving the highest profile there are similar abuses reported in Tunisia, Israel, Vietnam and Iran.

I am adding a badge to this site to show my support for this campaign. The issues of (real) freedom of speech, oppression and censorship are obvious and important.

But we can not have a two, three or four-tier internet either. I can’t believe that we can have a global economy, that we can force all the negatives of capitalist systems on the world but we can not do the same with the positives. The internet is a great thing and it is important that people are allowed equal access to it. Particularly as it is now bound to progress and development and will increasingly become a mechanism for people to participate in the global market place.

The internet is one of the few media where people, ordinary people, can act, ask and access equally. We should protect that right.

Imagine not being able to stand up and say that you disagree with something your government are doing or saying, that it offends you morally and ethically. Not being able to alert other people to the injustice and violence faced by so many people every day. In the 21st century.

Imagine not being able to say you think Ruth Kelly looks like a lesbian. Yesterday I used this blog as a minor force for evil. Today I restore the balance.

Also, PKblogs provides access to banned blogspot addresses in India, Pakistan, China and Iran.

27 October 2006

Verily, it is now thusly

The good

Oh, wait. This is good. Excellent in fact.
I’ve got some merchandise. T-shirts, mug and badges. Shout out to Carol who has the know-how. I’m sure that my regular reader will be shipping a crates worth of gear over. Christmas is coming, reader, Christmas is coming.

The bad
Well, I don’t know about you but I’ve had a shitty week. You know those ones where you think it’s just got to better but somehow it never does? One of those. I’ve given up now.

The BB is teething which means that she is miserable most of the time and we can’t do anything to help her. This is soul destroying in ways I have never experienced before. And there is no sign of teeth yet. It’s just her gums preparing themselves for the horror to come. Teeth. What a ridiculous design flaw. You’d think that we would have improved them through evolution by now. You go through agony grow the first set, which then fall out. Then you get another load which take an immense amount of looking after and cost a fortune. Then they fall out and you have to have pretend teeth that hurt. And don’t even mention wisdom teeth. I don’t have wisdom teeth. I know – you’d think I’d have a mouthful.

I’ve had a headache reaching from behind my eyes, up my whole forehead (temple to temple) over to my crown for five days now. It comes and stays. What do you think? Terminal? I think I’m stressed. I’ve never been stressed before. It’s an interesting, and highly unpleasant, phenomenon. Are there tablets you can take? Does it go away on its own or do I need professional help?

The firework problem is ongoing. The neighbours seem to be taking it in turns to taunt us with their fun incendiary devices. I am toying with the idea of calling the police every time one goes up and telling them I can hear gun shots in the shrieking tones of a panicking woman.

Parsnips gave the BB the wind. Terrible, terrible wind. We all suffered equally though.

The ugly
Also, we’ve had an ‘incident at work’ that it has put my thoughts about veils into sharper focus. Actually they're more thoughts about thoughts about veils since I really don't care either way. I think that many people who would like Britain, or more specifically Eng-er-land, to be white would like people of any different ethnicity to disappear, to not have a voice, or a place in our country. And if they are here then they should be invisible and silent. My issue is that unlike the sari, the turban or the even Buddhist monks’ robes the black shrouding of some Muslim women renders them, for me, invisible and silent. That’s exactly what a minority of people want them to be. So it is like the ouroboros which eats its own tail to sustain its life. But as I said in the comments below there is no place in our society for debate on this subject any more and that is the fault of the media, fundamentalists, racists and the government so I will be quiet now. Sssshhh.

25 October 2006

A bit of verbal about veils

I am now thoroughly bored with the debate about veils which it seems will never end. If one more damn person asks me what I think about the niqab and hijab I don’t know what I will do but it won’t be pretty or mature.

Before I make a brief, and final, statement I would like to make the following clear:

1. If I were in charge I would ban ALL Religions, even the pretend ones, making it illegal to overtly practise ANY Religion outside your own home. Street preaching would be akin to manslaughter in the eye of my law. Faith would be a private matter.

2. When people start to go on and on about things, any things, I go through four distinct phases. The not really listening because it’s become boring phase, the finding it all quite amusing phase, the this is totally oblivious are you all stupid please be quiet phase and then the holy shit are we still going on about this it’s making me quite angry now phase.

3. I am fundamentally opposed to most Religions on the grounds that they are nearly all inherently homophobic, and none of them seem to find this blatant bigotry unacceptable. Or, in that case of some, ironic.

4. I am fundamentally opposed to most Religions on the grounds that very stupid people are able to use them as an excuse for getting their kicks by killing people, invading countries and generally behaving in ways that would shame the killer chimps of the Mahale Mountains. If a child can’t play with a toy responsibly then a good parent takes away that toy until such a time as said child’s behaviour improves. Same principle should apply.

5. Having said that, although I don’t believe in a God, I believe in believing in one. Or four. Even more if you like.

6. Although I am minded to belive that Religion has very little to do with faith anymore. If it ever did. It has plenty to do with money and power, but not too much to do with faith. Or perhaps that should be Faith.

Anyway, here is that brief, and final, statement:

I am not a huge fan of that black niqab and hijab ensemble you’re wearing. This is because only 7% of communication is verbal.

I’m not concerned that wearing it might be an infringement of your rights as a woman. I’m not worried about what statement about Muslims you are making to the non-Muslim population of Britain.

I just find it very hard to relate to you because, by burying it under swathes of cloth, you are denying me the 93% of communication which I, as a human being, rely on to form any response to our interaction. And I consider learning one of those responses – be that language skills in a classroom or something about you over a latte in a cafe. So, I’m not really bothering to engage 100%, just the 7% which covers being polite in the post office or the supermarket.

Maybe this is sheer laziness on my part. Maybe it’s just that with so many fascinating things in the world and only so many hours in the day, unravelling the thoughts and feelings you’re choosing to hide behind that veil, that you’re choosing to only express 7% of, are simply lower down on my list. And that’s not a reflection on you personally, because that would require some of that other 93%, it's a relfection on me.


Don’t start me on Freedom of Speech. Really. Or Merely the Freedom to Insult People as it’s called nowadays.

24 October 2006


I have signed up for this years’ National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo as Mork and Mindy nearly said. What on earth has possessed me to do this I shall never know but it is too late now – I am properly enthusiastic about it.

Beginning on 1 November, and not before, I have to write 50,000 words of a novel by 30 November. You can follow my progress here.

Relax – it’s only 1,666.66 words a day. Easy. I can fit that in between a job, a writers' group, a fledgling social life, sleeping, eating, being a better half, blogging and having a five month old baby. I foresee no issues with that.

I’m going to enter into the spirit of the thing and write without too much planning and rocket through a first draft as fast as possible. This is a good way to get me through the tough bit of starting and getting into a draft of a new novel.

You’ll not be able to read anything more than a 10,000 character extract, that’s around 1,600 words. So there will be no out of the blue book deals flying around to over-hype or envy.

Working title: Hot Pursuit.
Genre: Literary fiction, but only because the other options weren’t right and I didn’t want to put Other Genres in case people thought I was writing a cowboy pastiche. Hey, there's an idea.

I’m going to go and introduce myself in the forums shortly. See if I can’t make a complete arse of myself over there as well.

Then I’ll have to rustle up some kind of plot I expect. Oh hang on – literary fiction’s my genre. No plot needed.

23 October 2006

Ban them, ban them all

I hate fireworks. I’ve never liked them. Loud, banging, burning things. Imagine then the horror of living in north west London this weekend. With a five month old baby.

Bang bang bang bangbangbang.

I popped out on Saturday night, to put the rubbish out you understand not to enjoy myself in a bar, and the air was thick with the smell of gunpowder and smoke. The sound of fireworks was constant. There was the thick rumble from very far off in Central London, the nearer more distinguishable boom from out Harrow way and the distinct sounds of individual display in Neasden and Wembley. And the nice people over the back blotted their copy book too.

Bang bangbang pheeeeeeee bang bang bangbangbang bangbang pheeeeeeee pheeeeeee bang bang.

I imagine that’s what the blitz must have been like. With a similar fear of hot things raining down. I hid indoors, under furniture, with my ears full of toilet paper. I will be doing that in the event of war also.

‘If only Diwali was a Muslim festival,’ I said from beneath the coffee table.
‘Why?’ said tD as another £2,000 of money well wasted exploded in a deafening burst of green and red above the garden. She was calmly stretched out on the sofa.
‘Because if it was a Muslim festival they would have banned fireworks by now.’

Pheeeeeeeeee BANG bangbangbang bang bang bang bangbangbangbangbangbang pheeeeeee bang BANG.

And now ‘tis the season of kids throwing fireworks into busy newsagents and the constant sounds of fire engines careering up and down Walm Lane at all hours. Joy.

19 October 2006

Fun with solid food

I keep finding little smears of pureed organic root vegetable in unexpected places. This is not a usual occurrence. We are weaning. BB is in the 99.8th percentile height wise so we had to start her on baby rice three weeks ago, rather than waiting until the recommended six months, which was a bit stressful bearing in mine that she is not five months old until Sunday. It seems like only five minutes ago I was telling you she was four months old. Tempus fugit, etcetera .

Fortunately she has taken to eating like a happy little duck taking to water. She thinks that feeding is hilarious and enjoys a good chuckle half way through. Particularly if it is a vegetable she likes.

Thoughts on food so far include:

Baby rice is delicious. We are looking forward to moving on to fruit puree so we can have some alongside the rice. This will be like a Muller fruit corner, but without the nasty additives.

Potatoes are not delicious at all. They make us pull a funny face and purse our lips very tightly. We refuse to eat them.

Carrots are excellent. They are very tasty and also our favourite colour. Orange is marvellous and we strongly believe that more things should be orange.

Although sweet potato is orange we are not fooled for a second and can detect that the potato force is strong in this one. Not as bad as actual potato but not winning as many friends as the carrots.

Butternut squash is fantastic. A nice mellow shade of orange and a little bit sweet too. Delicious. Even better than carrots. Squash makes us giggle with delight and also wave our spoon around causing an enormous mess.

Swede is our absolute favourite, despite not being orange. We love the swede beyond all reasonable bounds. If we could eat swede all the live long day we would.

I don’t understand this swede thing. The swede is an evil, evil vegetable. Tastes like... I can’t think what. Hideous. As I say; evil. But she likes it. Next thing she’ll be liking apricots and curly kale. Gruesome. Give me a nice brussel sprout any day.

Never mind, we are doing well with the vegetables. Our doctor, who is also a mother of the gay persuasion, said her daughter would only eat butternut squash.

We do each vegetable in turn for two days and then stare anxiously at BB for any signs of adverse effects of said vegetable. Tomorrow it is parsnip (semi-evil) and then we begin the green vegetables on Sunday – courgette, broccoli and cauliflower. I know cauliflower is white but in our book (I recommend it, but only if you are weaning. It’s probably of limited interest to the general reader) the noble cauli counts as green.

Then, green vegetables dealt with, we can mix different purees together like potato, swede and carrot. This is called a medley. We can also give her fruit puree, as a pudding, or side order at breakfast. You have to do the vegetables first because they are savoury and some babies get hooked on the sweetness in fruit and then won’t eat the nasty swede. I don’t blame them as I am a fan of the sweetness.

Also, we keep the purees frozen in the traditional white ice cube trays. We have about three weeks in advance. They look fantastic all lined up in the freezer. Particularly the courgette which you leave the skin on. They look like little bars of soap. All organic from the nice organic shop on Harlesden Road where the man with the thickest glasses in the world works. Nice man. Blind as a bat.

18 October 2006

Podcast # 1

17 October 2006

J'aime le pain

Don’t tell Biroco but the French Market was back at the weekend. And this time it was bigger with added soap and knock off designer hats which were neither trés chic nor very French. Nary a beret in sight. Poor BB is starting her teething and so was not in tip top form but we took her for some fresh air. I forgot the big grown up camera so have resorted to using my mobile pone which only has 17 pixels and save things as bitmap files. I ask you.

Anyway, it was much the same as last time, except busier, and all the youth that had come over from the other side of the bus garage had obviously frightened all the Queens Park ignorati away. My mother would have called them, the youth, Common. Although Sunday is overpriced organic farmers market on Salusbury Road so they, the ignorati, would have all been there; crammed in between the cranberry and rosemary foccacia and the herd of four by four child killing machines. Best place for them.

The market is outside the Library Centre in Willesden Green. They are trying to get more of these events on, the last one was the African Market and Something, which I would have like to have gone to but I was entertaining that day and thus not allowed out.

Aren’t ordinary everyday items fascinating when in a foreign language? Moutard. Marvellous. And some other things to make cassoulet with. Cracking.

You could smell the cheese a mile off. Not a literal mile, a nasal mile. We had some brie and some smoked raclette which is as stinky as I am prepared to get in the cheese department.

And there was hardly any bread left but the mound of biscuits eased the pain. I have accidentally been very funny and clever there. Pain. It’s rude to point out your own haphazard genius, isn’t it? Pain though. Or lack of pain. It’s a good job I’ve got a blog or that would have been wasted. Wasted.

And I thought there was fruit but it was soap. Thankfully I don’t often do fruit so I was spared the embarrassment of taking a huge bit from a lavender and mimosa scented apple. I was a close run thing though. I have been known to fall upon delicious market stalls with an open mouth and a hopeful heart.

This is clearly soap. I do soap daily.


Imagine I posted this picture on Friday the 13th when I took it. Yes?

I came out of my Shorthand mock exam on Throgmorton Street, round the back of Threadneedle Street, and the Gherkin was either in the process of lifting off, falling down or shrouded in paraskevidekatriaphobia. Either way it was quite a sight. I galloped around the corner to see what was happening but when I got there it had gone.

16 October 2006

Of closets and cabinets

When reading reports yesterday that Ruth Kelly is dragging her comfortably shod heels over the new gay rights legislation I was again agog at the woman. She really is a most fascinating creature.

It’s much like when I was a kid and my mother, who used to drive around the countryside nursing old people, took me to work with her. One patient had a terrible ulcerated leg. I was left in the living room with the ancient cat but I could see the leg through the crack in the door just on the other side of the hallway. If I shut my eyes and think hard enough I can see it now: all wet and red raw in the middle, yellow crusted around the edge and surrounded by blackening skin. It stretched almost the length of the woman’s calf and was being packed with gauze and sudocrem. I should have looked away but I couldn’t, I had nightmares about it. It was utterly repellent and yet totally fascinating. Like our Mrs Kelly.

When she was made Education Secretary there was great excitement in my house. I didn’t know she was a religious fundamentalist then, I’d only seen her picture in the paper and it had sent my gaydar pinging off the scale. I burst through the front door. ‘They’ve done it,’ I cheered. ‘They put a big old out-lesbian in the Cabinet.’

Of course, they hadn’t and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what we’ve ended up with. But what fascinates me, like an ulcerated leg, is this:

If she actually is a committed and certifiable Catholic cult member, if she really does hold ultra-catholic views on homosexuality and abortion, and if she genuinely is a woman riddled with all that bigotry and intolerance then what on earth is she doing? I don’t mean how can she, in all conscience, be the cabinet minister with the equalities brief, although it’s a very good point. I mean: Why does she present as a lesbian.

It’s the sensible shoes, shipping forecast, house full of cats type lesbian. The one with the standing order for the donkey sanctuary and the cupboard full of herbal teas. The one you don’t see around a lot anymore. Which is a shame; I liked her. But even our Ruth has pegged her as a dying breed and is moving on; having done the Wrong Shade of Lipstick Phase she is doing the Growing Long Hair Phase. The stuff of (a now tattered) text book, next she’ll be adopting a more androgynous look to go with her new patent brogues.

A friend of mine, who is now old and wise, spent many years as a fervently practising catholic even though he knew he was gay; he was having a hard time dealing with it. He converted when he was at university and said that it was great to find a place where everyone and everything around you validated your self loathing. As though he was a bulimic being told that not only is it acceptable to binge and vomit, but everyone else should be encouraged to do it as well. He also said that his self esteem plummented to such a depth that he had to turn the fear and hatred outwards on to other people just get by.

He’s much better now, he has self esteem and self respect and doesn’t need to burden himself with guilt and plead for forgiveness every five minutes. So, there is always hope.

Whilst on the subject; I was flicking through some old book yesterday and was reminded that we have an old law in this country that prevents any Catholic from becoming Prime Minister. Really I said to myself, but I thought the Blairs where Catho….

No, no. You’re right. It’s all far too obvious.

12 October 2006

All this was once fields you know

My regular reader will know that I grew up in the countryside. The village in which I grew upwards in height but not maturity, or Brixworth as it is known to many, has the oldest Saxon church in England, perhaps even Britain. Romans lived there as well, or they might have rode through Brixworth on the way to Guilsborough or Great Creaton and threw some bathroom tiles out the chariot window as then went. I don’t think it’s possible to know. It has a bookshop and a pottery, a pond (which is in someone’s back garden) and three proper country pubs. As well as a primary school, some shops, a village hall and a little library. Or it did. I haven’t been there for many years. The last time I was there Brixworth had acquired a sprinkling of mini roundabouts and some baffling traffic calming road furniture, particularly on the way to Spratton.

Although it was quite small it never felt like a village. Not a proper English countryside village. I went on holiday to some of those in Dorset and Brixworth wasn’t really on a par. Only two thatched roofs for a start.

I’m sure my fractured sense of community wasn’t helped by my going to school in a different village and then on the edge of town, unlike the rest of the street who all went to the village school and then the local comprehensive en masse. No wonder they threw things at me.

Once we had a street party with fireworks and hot dogs. I’m frightened of fireworks and also I have a thing about the ends of sausages. So that event didn’t really do much to integrate me into village society. And I liked reading. That never went down well. I should have preferred poking dead things with sticks and shouting at the Gypsies.

I am merely that area’s second most famous daughter as Princess Diana grew up near Brixworth and she is a little bit more well known than me. I have been on many a school trip to Althrop
House (we locals pronounce it ‘All Thorpe’ by the way), where there is a garden gnome, in the study, under a bell jar. He must not like it under there because every so often he makes a run for it and the staff find him in strange locations. How does he lift up the glass with his little fingers? How does he move his little pottery legs? How does he get off the chest of drawers and open the heavy doors? It’s Magic, they told us. One time I went and the gnome had gone. They hadn’t found him yet and claimed to be deeply worried for his welfare.

They have built all over my village, of course. Looking through my own personal satellite I see that the village has expanded all the way to the controversial bypass. The road perpendicular to my cul-de-sac used to mark one edge of village but now they’ve built almost to the Goat’s Milk House. So called because they sold goat’s milk when I was little. They had a goat, you see. It ate things that were indigestible then vomited on an almost daily basis.

There was also a donkey which sold tomatoes. The tomatoes were guarded by ferocious dogs. One of my nieces thought that donkeys laid tomatoes like chickens laid eggs. To this day I regret that someone put her right.

I’m going to take tD and BB on a pilgrimage there so that I have witnesses when I stand in the middle of a housing estate and shout; ‘I remember when all this was fields.’ Because I do.

You may visit what my village, Brixworth, has become if you like: by going here. It’s almost like being there, believe me. And if you visit virtually at this time of year you’ll be spared the smell of burning stubble. Oh. I forgot. There aren’t any fields any more. The green arrow is pointing to the house opposite and up one from my house. Up as in away from the cul of the cul-de-sac.

If do go visit and you zoom out? That black crippled dragon shape is Pitsford Reservoir (now with added Country Park). Not an ominous Gate To Pandemonium or anything. Although now I come to think of it is is entirely possible.

11 October 2006

Lunchtime Randomness

High excitement in NW2 this lunchtime. First I spotted a massive puddle which will force me to walk home a Different Way. Although not clear from this picture it spreads the whole way across the road. Imagine.

Man on a Bike, pictured below in fetching yellow, almost rode through the flood but then though better of it. It took him a little while to make his mind up, despite seeing three buses, a black cab and four small hatchbacks almost lost beneath the waves. His name is not Noah, clearly, the big chicken.

And then I spotted a mannequin unicycling across a large picture of Ruby Wax advertising some stupid television programme. I don’t think a reality TV show’s celebrity circus is going to be up to much. Surely it’ll just be a hoard of clowns and no acrobats. Unless it was a Jim Rose circus
, then it would make perfect sense. I would have liked to take a better photograph of the mannequin just for you, regular reader, but that would have meant crossing two lanes of motorway bound traffic and dicing with death on the central reservation. As much as I love you we are not at the point in our relationship where that kind of near death experience is acceptable. Yet.

Another observations: the ‘toys’ inside Kinder Eggs are not what they once were. You will have to trust me on this as I have no photographic evidence; I had been forced to return the ‘digital camera’ to the web team by then.

10 October 2006

Yar boo sucks

I can’t be bothered today. I think I am tired.

I used to get very annoyed with parents when they described their badly behaved offspring as ‘over-tired’. No, I would think to myself, they are just being a little bastard. It’s because they are evil, not because they are over-tired. It turns out that there is such a thing as over-tired. Who knew? BB gets over-tired at tea time when she has only had a 45 minutes power nap in the morning and refused to go to sleep for the rest of the day. Over-tired mainly involves a lot of loud growling noises and bursts of shrill crying. Occasionally there are bouts of kicking followed by some intense wriggling.

I think I am over-tired. I’m going to lie on the floor and make harsh sobbing sounds until someone picks me up and gives me a cuddle.

09 October 2006

Crab Apples

I went to a new café on Saturday for lunch. There seem to be a number of new little cafes and delicatessens popping up in Kensal Rise at the moment. This is probably because, in the manner of an odorous backed up toilet Queen Park is over spilling into NW10. The most hilarious example of this is the deli/café next to Kensal Rise station which is an ultra moderne glass structure not unlike a very grand bus shelter. It’s full of the very expensive tat that people who think they can cook fill their kitchens with to hide the fact that they don’t know the difference between button and chestnut mushrooms never mind which end of the mushroom brush to apply to them.

Not at all like this monstrosity of middle class disparation (like aspiration but totally without value or meaning being all about money and status rather than anything important) is The Brilliant Kids Café and Art Centre. We fit right in because we have a brilliant kid and is certainly a welcome addition the short list of places you can easily take a baby younger than 6 months old. Also, independent of BB, I am so weary of the gastro pub. I don’t think it has been open for very long but it is cracking, I hope it lasts and doesn’t become one of those good places that is open for five minutes and then closes.

One half of Brilliant Kids is the café where an impossibly posh, yet very hearty, woman cooks in an open kitchen. She whipped tD up some Hollandaise sauce for her Eggs Florentine which tD reported as the best sauce she had ever had (even better than my Mediterranean vegetable pasta sauce apparently, damn it all). I had Shepherd’s Pie and steamed broccoli which was magnificent. It was a huge portion, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to tuck it all away, but when I polished it off it was so lovely I could have eaten it all over again. But this is terribly uncouth, I understand, so I contented myself with just the one portion. It is also very reasonably priced with my homemade, organic and delicious shepherds pie coming in at £6.50.

The Gods of Impending Birthday sorted the weather out so we could sit outside. The garden is a little oasis of peace and tranquillity. Once you have got the buggy beside your table. Up to that point it is an oasis of why in the name of god is this garden covered in posh grey gravel that the wheels won’t work on.

We sat underneath a crab apple tree, an upward glance looking much like this:

Next door is the other half of Brilliant Kids – the Art Centre. They do all kinds of workshops for kids; from music and movement, storytelling to knitting. There is a little club afternoon with a DJ called The Crib, where they can learn street dance, and The Popcorn Club on a Saturday morning where the little angels can watch classic children’s films. They also do children’s parties which I imagine are marvellous but hideously expensive.

And you can leave your heap of car parts outside to lower the tone without paying a penny. Joyous. Did I mention the crab apples?

06 October 2006

Improving international relations

A Latvian personage that I know, who is a close family friend (on tD’s side) in a way that is far too complicated to go into, is a big economist in Latvia and is often doing crazy things for his job. Why, only last week he was giving a presentation on something complex and financial to a group of terrribly proper and posh people which included the crown prince of Sweden.

Next week he has got another gig which the queen is going to be at. I have trained him up manners wise and, if she speaks to him, he is going to tell her how much he enjoyed her work in Prime Suspect which I have managed to convince him is a new Metropolitan Police initiative.

So, in a couple of weeks when we throw all the Latvian diplomats out of Britain and declare war on all Baltic states you’ll know why. Entirely my fault.

05 October 2006

Kindness overwhelms (still) young blogger

Crikey, this blogging is a marvellous wheeze. Shortly before nine am I post that I want the new Scissor Sisters CD. At quarter to three I receive a call from reception saying there is a package for me. At five to four I can no longer resist temptation and open package. Inside is the new Scissor Sisters CD and card signed by my most esteemed colleagues.

They are all gorgeous and I thank them. There might even be kisses.

I have just spent the last few minutes trying to think of something else I want but it’s been to no avail as I now feel as though I have everything.

Except a Suitable Coat.

And all I really want is the new Scissor Sisters CD

It’s my birthday very very soon. I dread it. This is because for my birthday I have to have an expensive item of clothing, like a pair of shoes or a coat or something, to replace whatever has worn out since the last time said item came up in the birthday cycle. This is not only because we are poor as little hungry, cold and tatty church mice but also because I hate shopping and hate clothes, so have a tiny tiny wardrobe. I don’t hate clothes in the I’d-Prefer-To-Walk-Around-Naked kind of a way. I hate clothes in a What-A-Pointless-Waste-Of-Time-Open-Brackets-And-Also-Newspaper-Print-Close-Brackets-Fashion-Is kind of a way.

How odd then that I should look so hot you’re thinking, aren’t you? Aren’t you?

I’ve now learnt that me and the Saturday Guardian don’t mix so I don't speak from first hand experience, but tD went into a paroxysm of rage a couple of weekends ago when she read in the magazine that one of the female fashion persons had saved up to buy a slender tone machine when she was twelve. Twelve years of age that is. Honestly. If BB saves up for a slender tone machine when she is twelve years of age I will consider myself an abject failure as a parent and I will do myself, BB, tD and the rest of the nascent population a favour and top myself forthwith. And she wrote this herself, like she was proud of it. Bizarre.

Anyway, back to me.

I find myself the proud owner of merely five shirts, eight t-shirts, two pairs of jeans, a pair of baggy dark olive green trousers, a pair of fisherman pants, two (and a half) jumpers, a tank top, a cardigan, two suits, a pair of proper shoes, a pair of broken wabis and a pair of Birkenstocks. A green leather jacket, a navy velvet jacket and a bright blue hoodie. And that is all. And underwear obviously, including vests. Also, passable gym kit including same vests and trainers.

Sadly though Birthday /Time To Buy A Coat is upon us. I got away without one last year by Layering-Up but as I am now a responsible parent I’m going to have to stop looking so much like the Artful Dodger and more like Mary Poppins. This means that I will be dragged round a variety of shops trying on coat after coat after coat until one which is deemed Suitable is found. I will then take Suitable Coat back after a week and change it for the first one I saw.

Then we will have the mildest winter in the history of winters and I will be permanently too hot.

And then it will be Christmas. By which time I will have worn out my jeans and will need a new pair. Then there will be recriminations because I have allowed them to drag along the floor at the back and worn them out faster (true).

They also, apparently, wear out faster because I only wash them once a month. They are jeans. They are inherently self cleaning (less true).

On the positive side though (as I am adopting a more sunny approach again this week) it might be all different at The Shops with BB and extensive accessories in tow and I do wash my jeans more regularly as they do get vomited over with more frequency these days. And not by me I hasten to add.

03 October 2006

I like watching the whole programme

If you watch Spooks on BBC1 and not on BBC 3 I shouldn’t read this post if I were you. Which I’m not and besides that I’m writing it so I can’t help but read it. At least once on the way through.

Anyway, this is a little bit of filler to reiterate that if you don’t know what happens in the episode of Spooks that was on BBC 3 last night at 10.25pm, you may know it as The Episode After The African Summit Episode, and don’t want to know click away. Go here. Or here. But don’t read on.

So. Can you believe it? That they have gotten rid of Ruth, I mean. The bastards. She has gone somewhere mysterious to pine for Harry because she was framed for something complicated and then I missed a bit and something else happened and Hermione Norris’ character whose name escapes me was a bit mean which was quite sexy and then there was a plastic bag on someone’s head and some shouting and now Ruth has gone.

It’s Roz. The Norris character. I’ve remembered. I find her oddly attractive but this is not really relevant. Although I imagine Hermione Norris will be fascinated to learn that I’ve described her as oddly attractive. And thrilled too. Probably very secretly.

The real reason I love Ruth though, and possibly Spooks, is because I had a little play on at Soho Theatre, quite close to London's West End, once upon a time and Nicola Walker, who plays Ruth, was in it. And she was exactly perfect, just how the character played in my head. She seemed like a very nice person as well and even bought me a pint which always goes down well. When I look back on my hideous foray into professional theatre she is the axis of one of only four good experiences. She’s much better looking in real life as well. Rather like me.

I salute you Nicola Walker. With both hands simultaneously.

But I am not so much enamoured of her that I am prepared to watch Touching Evil. Not even the fragrant Walker can scratch the diseased itch that is Robson Green.

Of course, thanks to the BB I never see any television really. I see a little bit of television, the back of the living room door, the carpet in the hallway, the bedroom door handle, the rails of the cot, the BB. All at high speed. Then if I’m lucky I do it all backwards ending in seeing a little bit of television. I attempted to watch Cracker on Sunday and I did see some minutes of it but couldn’t tell you if Robbie Coltrane was in it because I never laid eyes on the chap. I missed the end last night so it’s entirely possible that in the last minute Hary woke up, Ruth stepped out of the shower and it was all a dream.

I fervently hope so.

02 October 2006

The Beginner’s Guide to Being a Beginner Blogger by a Beginner

100th post. Ha [exclamation mark] That’ll learn all those teachers at school who said I had the attention span of a gnat. A whole hundred posts. Rather than waste it on some frivolous meandering about the mysterious reappearance of my mobile phone or telling you how I found a spider in my mash potato on Friday I shall provide an important public service and blog about blogging.

I am a beginner blogger and a bit helpless, hapless and hopeless. But, being objective, I have happened upon blogs less adept than this one so I’m going to forge ahead with The Beginner’s Guide to Being a Beginner Blogger by a Beginner. I have called upon Flashman Topside to hinder me in this mission, as he wants his own blog and may have some relevant questions. You may listen in as I attempt to share my pearls of wisdom with him. Or shitbits of shite as he called them. Shall we begin?

You’ve had a blog for some months now, how come you are still a beginner?
There are bloggers who are very well respected and very widely read. Note how they have all had blogs for eons and how they have gathered momentum over time. Seven months or so is not long in the world of blog. Although some people have a friend who has a very well respected very widely read blog and then they are all linked up and ready to go by the tenth post. But this is not the case for you as I don’t have a blog of this type and we are not friends. No matter how much your mother would like us to be.

You know that thing about how, if the earth had existed for a only day, life would have appeared in the sea at teatime and dinosaurs would have sat down to watch the ten o’clock news before mysteriously dying out and human beings have only been here for 3 seconds just in time for teleshopping to appear on every channel? Well in blogging terms I appeared in the last blink of an eye. So, I am a beginner blogger rather than a stalwart of the vanguard. And it’s only as you get more people interested in what you are doing that some of the other things become relevant, like managing feed and all that.

Also, I read some of these types of article and actually, thinking back, they weren’t that relevant to the absolute beginner because they were being written from the lofty perspective one acquires when sitting on triple figures visitors a minute and 3,000,000 inbound links. Although the last one I read was very good. And helpful. So there are exceptions. As always.

How do I get a bit of the Internet to call my very own then?
I just have a .blogspot.com at blogger because it is very easy and free. Lots of people on the message board seem to moan about it but I’ve never had any problems. It’s easy and free after all. Well, it’s a little bit taxing and free now I’m in beta but that’s my own fault; I tend to get over excited whenever presented with the word Upgrade. Anyway, you just sign up and then off you go. The Help Directory is very good. I read it all. Twice. If you know about CSS and things then you can really knock yourself out. But if you don’t it doesn’t matter.

The hardest thing is thinking of a name. My mate Crispy gave me mine. If it weren’t for him there wouldn’t be a blog. I'm sure you will join with me in saying thank you to Crispy.

Yeah. Thanks. Now, what am I supposed to put on my blog?
Put what you like on it. I don’t know. I like blogs where people write something about themselves and what they think about things. Although I’m not so interested in the sex blog people, or the people who over share about their emotional traumas or experiences of near death. But that’s just me. Some people, I suppose, find that fascinating and helpful. I expect you’ll end up with a blog similar to the ones you like. There are some specific types of blog, like photo ones or tech ones or ones which just have links to other things. It’s up to you.

What sort of blog do you think I should I have then?
One where there is no footage of you sitting around in your greying underpants shaking your bong wondering how it all fits together so marvellously. That is what YouTube is for, surely? You could be an Internet celebrity.

Oh, yes, because blogging can make you famous, can’t it?
No. It can’t. That is nonsensical. The easiest way to have a novel published is still to write one. Actually, the easiest way to have a novel published is to mention to a friend over dinner that you would like to write a novel, then they will speak to their senior management team at their publishing house and make it happen for you. You might even get it ghostwritten.

Also, while we are on the subject of fame and blogging, you would have to be pretty dense to lose your job because of your blog nowadays. Unless you wanted to, or you were sacked because of some other reason. The bubble has burst on that one, if there ever was a bubble. We must now await the backlash. Also, I would advise you to have a look at the photographs of all the people who have received publicity because of their blogs. None of them are gigantic half man half dog creatures, are they?

None of them are clumsy half woman half street urchin creatures either are they? You can be so hurtful sometimes.

How do you decide what you are going to post and what you aren’t?
There's a fine line between posting and not posting. You could sit around writing and writing, waiting for a great post. But the point is, I think, to post and not worry. The great post will come. Surely? I know, I know – still we wait.

In my day job I have to think about what I’m writing, and my other work, about which I procrastinate so expertly, is very planned and thought out. I like posting first draft stuff here because I don’t get an opportunity to do that anywhere else.

I have three imaginary readers. I try to write for them. I made them up so they are probably a bit odd and willing to indulge me in ways that real people, sadly, aren’t. But it's quite a useful thing to do.

How long should a post be?

Exactly the same length as a piece of string. Not a millimetre more, not a millimetre less. This post is about two metres longer than the piece of string.

How often?
Well, I post quite a lot but I’m thinking of only posting three days a week on the same days. It depends on what you like really. I used to read a blog where the guy only posted once a week but I lost interest. Do you see?

If you are a smoker, or have smoked, or done some other habitual things like always sitting in the same seat on the train or something – you’re probably going to be quite good at blogging regularly.

I supposed it’s important to make sure you’re spelling is right and your blog is not full of silly mistakes, yes?
Oh yes. That’s very important. I always always make sure I never ever make any mistakes silly or otherwise ever ever.

How can I get people to read my marvellous blog?
You can sign up for some directories and ping them. Pingoat is good for this and if you go there it will make everything clearer than I ever could. I get people coming from the Tube map over at London Bloggers and Brit Bloggers (but I haven’t managed to get the code up on the new site yet – sorry). Ask the (pin)goat.

Referring to someone else’s blog and providing a link is a good way of getting yourself out there. And writing about other people’s posts. I did these two things doubled the amount of daily visitors, for a brief time.

Word of warning: I think that it’s important to be genuine about these things though. It would be easy to write something about how, over at the very popular Squashed Birds Smell Bad, Dead Crow has written about road kill. But that’s not something I’m interested in at all. I would just be doing that to link up and get noticed by her and her massive audience. That is not only very mercenary but blatantly obvious. It’s not really in the spirit of the thing.

You can also do nothing but post. Some people arrive here because they’ve searched for something odd. I had a visitor who search for something like art hanging clothes line genitalia and I had about four camel toes. And one carrie anne moss camel toe. As though that would ever happen. I imagine that if you posted something (today) which was about how delegates at the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth were able to attend fringe meetings where they could engage in anal sex with dwarves holding axes and large bottles of honey mead, then before proposing any new legislation they can visit a Georgian gimp who would teach them about oral hygiene through the medium of dance and booth tanning; then you might get a few hits.

How can I get people to come back and read me again?
Don’t ask me. I had three or four, or some other similar smallish number, leave comments saying they liked what they were reading. But then they don’t seem to come back again. I miss them but there you are. Maybe I went through a patch of boring posts or maybe they are busy. I don’t know. There are a lot of good blogs out there and only so much time to read them in.

I think it’s more important to make sure that your blog makes you happy and that you post what you like, than it is to have people pour praise upon you or have your hits counter go through the roof. There are few places in life you can just say what you want and no one can interrupt you. At least if you live in my house there are. Very very few. Not even the bathroom.

I did go through the obligatory statistic obsessed faze but we’ve got over that now. Haven’t we? Yes we have. Good. Yes. Good indeed.

All right. Calm down. I heard that you’re supposed to comment a lot on other people’s blogs, is this right?
According to all the other advice about blogging comment box whoring is a good way of getting people to visit your site. I think this is nonsense. Comment box whoring was once a good way of getting people to visit your site but now everyone is wise to it and it doesn’t work anymore.

There was, oh only a couple of weeks ago now, a lot of natter about commenting and should you reply as a matter of courtesy to new readers. I even joined in. Rather rashly. I now have a policy of replying to every comment. Unless it’s hilarious and then I delete it in a fit of jealousy and righteous outrage.

I, of course, don’t really have this problem because I hardly even get any comments and by replying to them all I automatically double the number I get. My, how easy it is to get all obsessed with statistics and popularity again.

I note with horror now that on some sites where I have commented (rarely and again, rashly) my details are remembered for next time. So when I read the comments now there’s every chance I might post a comment by accident. Currently, I’m too scared to read any comments at all. It’s a minefield, I tell you. A minefield.

Okay. Next question. It’s all about the linkage, isn’t it? How do I get lots of people to link to me?
Well, that’s how to get people to your site mostly. Although not totally. I think if people link to you that’s great, and a lovely compliment but you can’t make them do it. I can’t believe that some new bloggers have actually pestered others to get them to link to them. I wouldn’t expect anyone on my blogroll to link back to me just because I’ve linked to them. And vice versa. Although I am meaning to link to Popplestone and can’t because I can’t remember my blogroll password at the moment. Blogroll: another handy doobery dah.

Why are you always on that site meter page and why does it make you cry?
Those little bits of javascript that you can pop into your template so you know how many visitors you getting? Are evil. I would advise against getting one because all you’ll do is spend the whole day looking at your summary page whimpering and wondering why no one is visiting. Is there anything more soul destroying that clicking on ‘Who’s On’ and being told that ‘There have been no visitors to your site in the last hour’? Don't do it.

Anyway. I’m over this now. It’s a stage you have to go through. Like turning off your comments box.

There are stages?
Yes. We’ll do an update at 200 posts.

Okay, I’ll check my diary. What about the competition?
There is no competition. Unless you have a clone who has a blog and posts the same things you do. Otherwise how can you possibly compare?

I read somewhere that there are over 35.3 million blogs online. I think this is a lie because this morning Technorati said I was ranked 337,561 in the blogosphere and if there actually were 35.3 million I’d be somewhere around 35.29 million. Before you start, I love Technorati and will hear no ill of them.

Any more handy hints, oh wise beginner?
My best tip is to say to yourself regularly ‘Woo wee, it’s only a blog.’ And also ignore everything in the papers or on the radio about blogging, unless it is an actual proper blogger talking. Don’t look at other people’s site meters. I never have, I can’t imagine why you would want to, but apparently it can be profoundly upsetting.

If you could start your blog again what would you do differently?
I would post for three months, maybe longer, with no site meter and no comments box for a while. I think that would have profoundly improved the quality of my experience. That's all really. Ever onwards. Etc.

No really, how do I get people to read my blog and how can I get people to come back when they do?
I don’t know. Honestly. Luck?

You’ve put me off now.
Oh no [exclamation mark] don’t be put off. Do persevere. In four years you could have lots of readers and loonygroupies, at least I think that’s what they are called. You could be on the radio, in the paper, all sorts given time. I love having my little corner of the Internet and messing about with it, accidentally deleting it all and having to rescue it. It’s great. It’s much less dangerous than windsurfing after all.

Right, I’m going to start a blog and get loads of attention and be in the paper and on the radio within a year.
Or you could audition for Big Brother. It would take less brain power and far less commitment.

29 September 2006

Welcome to blogger beta

This must be how Dorothy felt when she, rubbing the bump on her head, opened the door of her house to find herself newly arrived in Munchkinland, at the foot of the yellow brick road.


Better than diggin' a ditch

Sad Little Clancy was in such dire need of a wash it was impossible to discern her delicate bronze colour beneath the thick coat of the grime. We found ourselves in such a terrible state of dishevelment that none of the other cars in the street would park near her in case any dirt blew onto them. Poor Sad Little Clancy resembled a little Dickensian street urchin; slightly consumptive and in need of a good scrub.

I took Sad Little Clancy to get some tender loving care at a Hand Wash Establishment. I was tipped off by a friend who put the frighteners on me about the horrors of the modern, violent automatic car wash. Near my old gym, on Cricklewood Lane, is a little garage with a big forecourt. It is teaming with men wielding powerful jet hoses, giant sponges and chamois leathers. There is some debate as to whether they are Russian, Kosovan or Albanian which goes to show how ignorant we are about our East European brethren in NW2.

Well, parked in the queue behind a Mercedes and in front of a Porsche (obviously over from hideous Queens Park) I did wonder whether Sad Little Clancy, as a lowly G reg Nissan Micra, would get any attention. Then when one of those women with long blonde hair and permatans, that men seems to find so attractive, stepped provocatively out of her Mercedes I thought we were there for the duration.

But no. Sad Little Clancy was seized upon like a packet of fags at a health spa. There were six burly Balkanesque types spraying and sponging, washing and waxing and before Sad Little Clancy or I knew where we were she was shiny and bright as a new penny outside and clean and fresh smelling inside.

‘Thank you, thank you,’ said the man as I gave him £7 which I considered an absolute bargain. I looked over to Blondie’s Mercedes where one despondent little chap was half heartedly dragging a limp sponge across the bonnet of her luxury vehicle.
‘Honestly,’ said the man rolling his eye. ‘Car not even need cleaning. Not like your car. Your car filthy filthy dirty.’

Across the forecourt four of his colleagues were admiring Sad Little Clancy’s rear end with such lip licking delight I felt terrible when I drove her back home and deprived them of her rusty beaten up charms.

26 September 2006

Your call may be recorded for training porpoises

Well, my attempt to maintain a sunny disposition throughout the whole week has been scuppered and its only Tuesday. We are not even at Wednesday, the Hump of the Week or Thursday, Dreaded Worst Day of the Week Always.

This is the fault of Three Mobile (or 3 Mobile, whichever you like) who are possibly the worse mobile phone company in the, albeit brief, history of mobile phone companies. Without question.*

I am all grumpy about non-UK call centres now, which annoying because I can’t be doing with all that call centre location thinly veiled racism nonsense. It’s not as though British people are not breathtakingly rude and stupid at times. I’m only grumpy about it because it is something to be grumpy about. Like finding someone utterly pestilent and then noticing that they have unfortunate hair and calling them Pube Head when actually just calling them a generically offensive yet comical nickname would do just as well, probably better.

Imagine the horror: on the 8 September my mobile phone packed up. The screen went blank and it refused to respond to my frantic button jabbing. So I executed the ‘pull the plug out’ manoeuvre, the fulcrum about which my IT expertise pivots, by removing the battery and putting it back in again. Then it wouldn’t switch on again. The little tinker.

So I phoned Three. They sent me to a Three stockist to test the phone to see whether the handset or the battery was broken. Why they made me do this I do not know as I had to send both back anyway but this is only infuriating in retrospect. It was the handset. They picked my phone (and battery and charger) up from work the following day and returned it three working days later as promised. Which wass actually five days, but again with retrospect. Gosh, didn’t I sing the praises of Three from the very rooftops? ‘What a marvellous service,’ I sang from the very rooftops whilst skipping. ‘Everyone should have a Three phone. The customer service is exemplary. They are a phone company who cares about the customer. Their call centre is in Mumbai, where they are so helpful and nice. Look at the trees, look at the birds. Sing, praise Hallelujah.’

Then on the 18 September it broke again, in exactly the same way, having worked for a total of five days. So I rang Three and arranged for them to pick it up again the next day. They didn’t. I rang them back and they said they would pick it up the following day. They didn’t. They did manage to pick it up on the third day after I was forced to bellow across the continents at them.

The phone was supposed to come back yesterday. But it never put in an appearance. So, I rang them this morning.

‘I quite understand your irritation,’ said the girl.
‘Where is my phone?’ I said.
‘It is at the repairers still,’ she said.

I listed the reasons why this was unacceptable beginning with the newsflash that my phone has been out of service for 15 days this month and ending with the stunning revelation that no one called me to tell me my phone would not be arriving when they said it would be and this was terribly rude and if there is one thing to destroy my fragile joyfulness its unnecessary rudeness. **

‘And now you will make it all better,’ I said, all calmness now spent of fury. ‘You may speak to your supervisor if you want. I will hold.’
‘I quite understand your irritation,’ the girl said.
‘I am now holding,’ I said.
‘I quite understand your irritation,’ she said.
I sang Windmills of Your Mind to her in my finest Muzak Voice.
‘I am putting you on hold,’ she said.
‘No,’ I said. ‘I have already put you on hold. You are the one on hold.’
‘But you are singing to me,’ she said, perplexed.
‘No. I am singing at you. Because you are on hold,’ I said.
‘Hold please.’

I didn’t think she would come back but she did.

Sadly, she only returned to tell me that she would ring me back shortly with a solution to my problem and that she was still very understanding of my irritation. I am waiting for her to call, hunched over my phone twitching and snarling. It has been three hours. By the time I get the phone back I will have forgotten where I put the sim card for safe keeping.


Where the hell is the sim card?

And now my fabled lunchtime run will have to be of the bad mood improving type instead of the good mood enhancing type which I much prefer.

Damn you Three mobile, damn you. Also, where the hell is my phone, you Pube Heads?

*Please, gentle reader, do leave me a comment with details of your evil phone company as when I finally escape my contract in 2145 I would like to avoid other evil phone companies. This way we can make the world a nicer place for one and other.

**This paragraph should really begin lower case and then become uppercase growing into an enormous angry red font but I as a Libran I am too aesthetically sensitive for any of that (or am I? I’m not sure. Yes. No. Maybe. Eek.) Also, the whole post should be littered with exclamation marks but I can’t bring myself to do that either. I don’t think my natural merriment would recover ever. Ever.***

*** End of rant.

I don't like insects

My regular reader will know that I hate insects to such an extent I think it might well be pathological. I shouldn’t really though, given that I am technically a country girl. I grew up in a small village which was a good half an hour’s drive from town and fifteen minutes from the next small village plagued by all manner of fauna, and flora. Oddly.

But instead of living in an idyllic cottage or other picture postcard village dwelling we lived on a housing estate on the edge of village; a sprawling mess of cul-de-sacs and winding alleys ways encroaching on corn fields which the farmers burnt down in early autumn. So it was a little less rural than you might think.

There are a couple of good things about growing up in the countryside; I know a lot about wildlife, having been harassed by it during my formative years, and I don’t get all dewy eyed when faced with large expanses of grass and gently rolling hills like city types do. I stride forth confidently. That is until one of our insect brethren leaps enthusiastically for my face, intent on scarring me for life or inflicting some worse fate up on me.

This time of year is particularly difficult given the sheer volume of crane flies which find their way into our flat. I researched carefully last night what it is about that disturbs me about them as two if them fitzed up and down the living room wall.

I think it’s the fact that their legs come of so easily.

We are currently plagued by enormous spiders as well. When I took the spider register last night there were a grand total of seventeen spiders spanning more that a centimetre in my house. Many of them at least three centimetres across. And that was only the ones I could see. This doesn't bear thinking about.

Then there are the moths, the woodlice, the earwigs and the snails. I really hate those big fat furry moths as well. I remember when tD and I had only been together for a month at the very most. We were in bed when an enormous hawk-moth came through the window, attracted by the warm glow of the bedside lamp. I was hysterical, properlyhysterical in a most Victorian fashion, and had to be calmed down with brandy. I’m telling you; it flew at me with murder in its huge black eyes.

Apparently they’re more afraid of me than I am of them.

I find that very hard to believe.

25 September 2006

I like jazz

If a novel is like a portentous symphony and modern journalism is the equivalent of frothy pop then short stories could be three minute blasts of anthemic rock. Surely then, chick lit is the smaltzy ballad and academic papers the yowling of sixties folk. If political speech writing is anaemic boyband harmonising and advertising copywriting five finger pieces for the beginner pianist, then blogging is jazz.

You listen for ages to the doodling, tooting trumpet, squawking and squealing away, seemingly oblivious to everything else. It goes on and on and then all of a sudden there is it; that great sequence. The killer riff. The minutes pass unnoticed.

Then it’s gone again.

And we listen to yet more of the doodling, the tooting, the squawking and squealing, waiting for the next hook to grab us.

Hard knock life

I learnt nothing this weekend. So I've either attained omniscience or I'm a cocky little bugger. You decide. I already know because I'm omniscient. That's a clue, people.

I was in a foul mood all week last week. I'm attempting a more sunny disposition this week but not holding out much hope. Look at the weather for a start. I wonder if this week I will be able to whip myself into a towering rage by Thursday and spend Friday in a righteous sulk again. I did enjoy that. Although I did post quite politely with very minimal ranting. Because I'm attempting to be ingratiating, I expect.

I went to bed a half past eight yesterday and didn't allow myself to succumb to the decadent production values the BBC (who I'm still cross with) surely lavished on their adaptation of Jane Eyre. I now regret this as I wanted to check whether the people who cobble together the Guide in the Saturday Guardian were right that Jane Eyre is about a poor orphan who struggles to cope with life at a harsh boarding school (or words to that effect). I thought it was about a governess, a sub-Heathcliffe irritant and a mad woman in the attic. Perhaps la Guardianistas are confusing it with Annie. I can see how you could get Rochester and Daddy Warbucks muddled and think that Miss Hannigan is locked in the attic. I really can. Although technically Annie was in an orphanage. Same thing though, basically.

Never mind, Spooks is on today. I'm loving that they decide to turn it into a comedy for this series.

What else? I'm psyching myself up today as I'm going for a run tomorrow. This is will be highly amusing as I haven't been for a run for two months and I'm going at lunchtime. So I will have to spend the afternoon lying under my desk in the big wide open plan office groaning and panting. Highly irregular for a Tuesday.

22 September 2006

Friday round up

Friday’s post is becoming a bit of a summary covering many of the recent misfortunes to have befallen me, and the triumphs to have caught me unawares. So, although I am in danger of instituting a tradition, I shall crack on with the summary of where I am at or thereabouts for you.

I have finished the Bullet Trick. Hoorah. I am fully intending to write a measured and thoughtful review to make up for my previous petulance but I have shoved it on the bookshelf and each attempt to pick it up again results in an enormous wave of sorrow crashing down upon me, dashing me against the rocks of righteous indignation and feverish disappointment.

Televisual confusion
I was messing about with my camera last night and so didn’t plonk myself in front of the television until quarter to ten. I popped on BBC 1, even though I am Cross With The BBC At The Moment, and was most confused to find myself watching a docudrama where Tony Blair was extolling his own virtues as a God in a rather angsty fashion. Then, imagine my amazement, he confessed to having killed people and done all kinds of terrible things. Remarkable I thought. Then he, or perhaps it was Gordon or Claire, stuck a knife up through his chin and it made a noise exactly like when you crack Ice Magic with a spoon. At least I think that what happened with the knife and the chin. I have finely honed reflexes for that kind of thing so was already well under the sofa with my fingers over my ears and my thumbs in my eyes singing Yellow Submarine very loudly to avoid any TV gore induced trauma. Anyway, it transpired that it was not actually a sequel to The Deal but the same actor playing Nero, of the Roman Empire. I did wonder about the togas but thought that may be down to some strange Mandleson/ Campbell/ Blair Greco-Roman wrestling tournament. I think Martin Sheen is his name. He’s not related to Gloria Estefan either.

We have discovered that the team that lost the final of the womens’ five-a-side football tournament had reached the final in the three previous years and so now feel less bad about the sound trouncing we received. Although I can’t even begin to talk about the winners yet. Bitches.

Annoying crazy people
The Mad Man Who Lives Up The Road has a new personality to add to the veritable post office queue he has already accumulated. I shall call her Fanny. She is very irritating with an incredibly loud high pitched voice and grave concerns about her job security. She fears the sack, she fears the sack, she fears the sack, she fears the sack. Perhaps Fanny would perform a little better at work if she didn’t spent most of her time walking up and down my street screeching. I preferred Clive the Librarian. He used to rearrange the shelves in the library and hide the Ruth Rendell’s in the back of the cookery section. I liked him. The library staff liked him less though he meant they had to do some Work. Heaven forfend.

I inadvertently left Sad Little Clancy’s door unlocked for three nights and no one stole her, slept in her, pissed in her or threw rubbish in her. I am outraged. The Subaru up the road went like a hot cake. I think I will buy Sad Little Clancy a spoiler and a neon racing stripe.

Most importantly
Bambino Bamboo is four months old today. Happy sortofbirthday [exclamation mark] She’s doing lots of interesting things and being adorable but this is the round up post so there’ll be no more of that.

And there we are. Vaarwel, gentle reader.

21 September 2006

Some things are better than others

Camels are better than giraffes
Radishes are better than spring onions
Stout is better than bitter
Mittens are better than gloves
Rice is better than noodles
Sarcasm is better than irony
London is better than Paris
Hands are better than feet
Jumpers are better than cardigans
Drinking is better than smoking
Hiccups are better than pins and needles
Snow is better than sand
Sculpture is better than painting
Spiders are better than daddy long legs
Shirts are better than blouses
Football is better than cricket
Triangles are better than tambourines
Tigers are better than lions
Felt tips are better than crayons
Octopus are better than jellyfish
Orange is better than purple
Chairs are better than benches
Tulips are better than daffodils
Salad cream is better than mayonnaise
Belts are better than braces
Winter is better than summer
Letters are better than emails
Cheese is better than chocolate
Silence is better than muttering
Running is better than cycling

20 September 2006

We are(n't) the Champions

We played football last night, me and sixteen comrades. Or the five-a-side aberration which passes for football in some ill-educated quarters. It was a biggish tournament, all proper with FA trained referees and everything, for charity. Sadly we, being the teams of the unsaid charity, were the only teams not to be in a five-a-side league, play together regularly or have shin pads so you can imagine how it went. I don’t even have any socks long enough to hold up shin pads. Luckily we did all have matching t-shirts which we filched from the Events Team Matching T-shirts Cupboard, so we didn’t look totally like amateurs. Much like amateurs.

We did look totally like amateurs. Which is okay, you know.

The Boys Team lost all their fours matches, but did manage to score twice and we, the Girls Team, lost all our four matches (in the name of equality you understand), and only scored once when our best player converted a penalty.

There was a team of small whippety woman who all had matching shorts as well as proper polyester blend tops with the team name on the front and numbers on the back. We feared them because of the matching shorts. I think they probably won overall. Although by the time the final whistle was blown on that match I was sulking in the back of the car somewhere in Vauxhall. The tournament was in Norbury which is very south of the river and therefore this morning I feel a little virus-y.

When I was a little bit younger I used to be rather good at the old football. The boys used to let me play and everything. Then I played at university and we were quite good. But not five-a-side. Proper grown up football. Last night I remembered why I avoided it.

There’s no opportunity to show off your silky skills in five-a-side as the minute the ball touches your foot all four outfield members of the opposition bear down upon you in the manner of starving wildebeest seizing upon a patch of pampas grass. You can’t hit the ball above head height so no crowd pleasing bending. No dribbling to speak of, no Ronaldinho elastics, no Ronaldo chops, no Rai flicks, no Cruyff turns. No showing off. No fun. I only got one step over in, which came to nought shortly after as three starving wildebeest nipped the ball away and hurtled away with it to bring to score to eight nil. Five-a-side doesn’t really suit my leisurely, it has been said elegant playing style. Also, I don’t like falling over on Astroturf so that’s a good deal of my Portuguese influenced game gone before I’ve put right instep to ball.

Also, there was too much sand on the pitch and they made us play with the wrong balls. Bah.

On the positive side I didn’t get stretchered off as had been predicted and other than a little tightness in my left hamstring I’m totally unscathed. It was, in fact, the boys’ goalkeeper who spent seven hours in A & E (I preferred it when it was called Casualty) getting his fractured wrist set in plaster for six to eight weeks. Who would have thought? I was well up for a couple of weeks in traction too, having sorted out reading material and everything.

On reflect this post should actually read: we played football, I’m not as good as I used to be, I feel bad for letting my team mates down and I hate, hate, hate The Losing. I’m in misery.

You get the gist though, I’m sure.

19 September 2006

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18 September 2006

Some things I learnt this weekend

Charlie Sheen is not related to Gloria Estefan.

Shouting at the very very top of my voice during arguments in Sainsbury’s about whether there are courgettes in the fridge, insisting there are when I know very well there are not, does not make courgettes magically appear in said fridge.

I am one and a half centimetres shorter than I have been telling people; I am either a liar or a midget of the future.

It is not possible for me too fit through the bathroom window. And it is not quieter for me to attempt this than it is for me to ring the doorbell and ask tD to let me in.

I must not wake the baby when she is napping during the day as it is impossible to get her to go back to sleep and she is grumpiness personified for the rest of the day.

I am not, no matter how fine a point I balance my clutch on, or how little I put in the boot, going to beat the arse-crumb round the corner’s enormous land rover off the lights at the bottom of Walm Lane. Indeed, if I continue in this fashion I will find myself and Sad Little Clancy on the painful side of the broken window of Sarah Teather’s constituency office.

St Elmo’s Fire does not ‘shit all over’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. As someone who has never seen St Elmo’s Fire I should cease and desist from making such bold statements in earshot of (surely one of the only) fanatical Matthew Broderick fans.

I am not the kind of woman who can afford to only half pay attention whilst engaging in complex and private hair removal activities.

Police cars are not taxis.

17 September 2006

Nice doggie

I have never been a woman to get chatted up by strangers (of any gender) in bars. This is something of a tragedy as since a young age I have been accumulating a wealth of scathing put downs and acidic comebacks for just such occasions. So imagine my joy when earlier, whilst enjoying a quiet afternoon pint of Guinness and spending a meaningful hour with a pile of vellum and my favourite quill, an opportunity to use Put-down #12,387 presented himself.

He sidled up to me like an slimy gecko and draped himself, in what I can only imagined was supposed to be a seductive manner, across the chair.
‘You know, I could fulfil your every sexual fantasy,’ he said, issuing forth drunken spittle rich with chardonnay fumes and kettle chip crumbs.
‘How odd,’ I said. ‘You look absolutely nothing like a Great Dane to me.’

The fruitless struggle for a response killed off 134 of his remaining 137 brain cells and, with only his gross motor skills still fully operational, he slithered back over to the bar; a broken man.