Friday, 8 February 2013

And She's Off!!!!

First weigh-in at Slimming World was Tuesday just gone and I'm 7lbs down. Pretty happy with that - an average kind of first week loss although I have lost 11lbs in a first week once. This time I've decided to eat normally (ie not starve myself) on weigh-in days. If you don't eat all day there's a danger that you'll go home after group and chow down on everything in sight, which I've done soooo many times - this time I decided that I was going to be sensible and moderated. Hopefully I'll finally be successful!
I'm a big believer in rewarding yourself with little non-food treats when you have a good week on a diet so tomorrow I'm going to have some eyelash extensions. Yes, I do realise it's not really a little treat but Big Man has paid for them for my birthday, and it's half-price because a trainee is doing them, so I'm classing them as such. I'm really excited about it!!

I expect to look something like this tomorrow afternoon....

Monday, 4 February 2013

From The Pen Of A Mullingar Heifer....

Hands up if you can identify with my sad tale.

Before Red was born I had a nice figure - I always thought I was like the side of a house but with hindsight I was probably an ideal weight for my height. Put it this way - when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant I wasn't too heavy to be almost blown over a lowish wall on the main road by a great gust of wind whilst I was shaping along in my leather coat (probably to buy 20 Rothmans....I was on the ciggies big style in those days) and pixie boots. If I hadn't executed a pretty nifty scissor kick as I was buffetted diagonally from behind, passing drivers would have been dialling 999 rather than just being plain gobsmacked.

After Red was born I was scrawny. Walked everywhere with the pram; still puffing away on the Rothmans; no Big Man around therefore no need for any nourishment other than black coffee. When Mr Charming was born two years later I'd given up smoking, had a brand new car and didn't do any walking ("Look at me! I'm in a J-reg Astra!!"); consequently I started to get fat. And fatter. I've put on roughly seven stones since the pre-kids days; I've lost up to five stones at a time in the interim but put it on again and currently I am looking like the proverbial Mullingar heifer. Never heard of her? When I was growing up in Dublin the disdainful description of any girl whose legs were a little bit chunky/a little bit cankle-y (at least I don't have those...thank you God!!!) was 'she's beef to the heel like a Mullingar heifer!'. I really don't know what the significance of Mullingar is in this by the way - it's a little town in the midlands of Ireland and Googling it I can see that famous Mullingarians include Joe Dolan, Michael O'Leary of Ryanair, Tina Kellegher (if you've never seen the film 'The Snapper' I command you find it and watch it NOW!!) and Niall Horan of One Direction, they of the totally knobbish haircuts - but I find no reference to heifers and fat legs. Go figure. It's almost as insulting as that withering putdown for those with skinny shanks....'last time I saw legs like that they had a message tied to them!' People can be cruel and usually I'm one of them, but then you already knew that....

Heifer with attitude. A bit like me. Lol.

So here I am, a fat lady. Not at all happy. Any fat woman who says she is happy with how she looks is a big fat liar. All the 'oh, let's celebrate curves' and 'oh, real women are the new black/new 30 etc' and 'oh, so many proper designers are making clothes for bigger women' doesn't hide the fact that fat girls look crap in just about everything they wear. My opinion, don't hate me for it.
I'm not only fat, I'm very top-heavy so fairly slimmish hips, not much of an arse but a mahoosive chest. Which I hate, hate, hate. I'm pretty sure we've been here before but titless ladies, trust me, if you had my bangers you would not be happy. It's the curse of the females in my family, from Southampton (pretty sure Red has been the cause of more than one male patient going down to theatre with a beaming smile on his face when she's the duty porter) via Dublin, to Minneapolis and beyond. Think of four 4x4 Duplo bricks on top of an upright 2x8 Lego brick and you get the idea. Older ladies might remember William 'the Refrigerator' Perry from the days when we were being flogged the idea that American football was what British sports fans were waiting for. A linebacker, that's me.

My ass is only half this size - o joy!!!
A couple years back I lost a stack of weight using a combination of Slimming World (me and Big Man were our group's Mr and Mrs Slimming World...the sense of achievement was exhilirating!), gyming and Spinning. I don't like exercise but I turned into a bit of a gym obsessive and I was crazy about Spinning. When I hit a plateau, which slimmers inevitably do, I decided to mix my exercise programme up a bit by trying British Military Fitness - it was just getting going in Southampton then and sessions were held on the Common. I went along and was a bit worried to see that almost all of the others were students or (what seemed to me) yuppie-types. Slim young women and men who'd obviously just come straight from their jobs in law or middle-aged, still hefty mothers in TK Maxx sweats. Firstly we all had to go on a run around the Boating Lake and back to the start point by the entrance to the Common. I puffed and panted my way past the shrimp net-wielding Eastern Europeans, hoping vainly to catch a carp, me obviously bringing up the rear. Everyone else had moved onto the next exercise by the time I made it back. This involved pairing up and doing sit-ups, each holding the other's ankles in turn. I was matched up with a young, scared looking studenty chap, not unlike Mr Charming is now.
Can you see where this is going?
His sit-ups passed without incident, however half -way through mine I let out a smallish but audible fart. His face was a picture, I don't think he knew where to put himself. I should have been mortified I know but I do believe that I might have actually laughed and said 'oops!' quite gaily. Maybe I should have leapt up and run and hidden myself in a little copse until the session ended but I just carried on doing sit-ups until the whistle blew. Needless to say the poor young fella was off like a greyhound out of a trap and I often wonder whether he got as many laughs out of the story as I have. In fact, am I wrong to sit here sniggering as I think of it even now?! And no, I never went back.
All this is a bit of a roundabout way of saying that I've started back to Slimming World again. There are a couple of reasons, apart from hating what I look like, not having a very good level of fitness, eating loads of snacky crap (not chocolate though...not really a fan) and not being able to wear lovely clothes. First, I've got another new sidekick at work who is very slim - I'd make two of her - and I don't want my residents calling us Laurel and Hardy. Second, Big Man has booked a holiday to Vietnam and I just don't wanna look like She-Hulk next to the petite Asian ladies.
She-Hulkeshling, but with a waist
I'm not telling anybody this time. Not Babcia, not anybody at work...even Red doesn't know but then she's hardly ever here and if she did know she might want to come with me then she'd drop out after a couple of weeks and people would keep asking about her and I'd have to keep saying she was doing shift work...blah blah blah. Been there, bought the t-shirt.
So, can y'all keep it a secret? I'm not gonna bore you with weekly updates or recipes or ideas for syn-free snacks. I'll just let you know each half stone, deal? And make sure you stick with me every fart of the way.
PS  Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce's Ulysses informs me that '...the plains of Westmeath around Mullingar are noted for fattening cattle.' So there you have it.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Once More With Feeling.....

You might remember, if you're one of the 80 followers that didn't unfollow me, that I said...oh, quite a while ago that I was Back. I wasn't back after all. But now I'm back!!!! From outer space!!!! Well, some round here do call our neck of the woods Mutant Mile, but that's by the by.

Since last we met I've been to Kefalonia. Then New York with Red and Babcia, who treated the citizens to her own special kind of nuttiness. Worked very hard at the same alternately wonderful/misery-making job. Got kinda engrossed in family history. Carb Addict left home. Not spent crazy amounts of money, which is always a good sign when your blog is kind of about saving money and paying stuff off. Not much else though...just lost the taste for blogging. Lately I've been thinking how things that happen to me would make fun posts.....I think that's a sign that I've been away too long.

No promises that I'll be writing as much as before (blogging community lets out a scream of relief) but I think I will be writing....

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Poor White Trash Pt 2

Oh my Gawd, it gets worse.

I just found a Fanny Hair in my family tree.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Poor White Trash

My new and very engrossing hobby is family history. Until recently I though genealogy buffs were sad nerds living in the past but now I've realised it's quite the 'pastime du jour', thanks to 'Who Do You Think You Are?' I'd like to say that I've discovered that I'm descended from European royalty but sadly no....not even Eurotrash royalty. Just poor white trash.

I decided to investigate Babcia's side but only the English side - the Polish and Irish bits are just too convoluted - however everywhere I look I'm finding new Irish relatives, penury and lunacy. Births in the workhouse; summonses and fines for allowing drunkenness on licensed premises; wrong-side-of-the-blanket dalliances and more bones in the cupboard than a dog-loving butcher.

My family's lives seem to have been unremitting hardship and early death - they worked in oil mills, as labourers or as domestics. They don't seem to have moved from the same grim area their whole lives and there are no family photos whatsoever. What's sad for Babcia is discovering that the very small family she believed she came from was actually part of a massive, old-established, very well-embedded in our home city, dynasty that had been shattered following a disownment. Growing up she wished for cousins and had none - little did she know there were tens of them, living within a couple streets of her.

The problem with tracing your family tree is that all the nuances are hidden from you. I can track my relations back to 17-something but then you're just doing it because the information is there - dry, plain facts. What you can't get is the nitty-gritty of what caused families to act as they did; what was said, by whom; what caused the disintegration of a previously happy family; where someone lived and what they did between censuses. And also, nowadays there's nobody left to ask about relations - for me there's Babcia but she can't remember everything (things she thought she knew have been proved not to be) and her mother and granny, who brought her up, were pretty closed-mouth regarding family matters. Babcia was a nosey kid but some things just were swept under the carpet. It's expensive too! If you want a copy of a certificate from the General Records Office it's £10 a time and the websites for ancestry cost money. I don't think I'll be getting too many certificates from here on in unless I'm particularly intrigued.

So far I'm enjoying myself but I think I'm coming to the end of what I can search out from home. A visit to the Family Centre in my malignant home town is on the horizon some time in the future. Who knows, I might still uncover a rich relation who'll take me away from all this!!!!

Sunday, 23 September 2012


I never intended to be one of those bloggers who write things like 'shelled some peas and ate them with gammon and a fried egg for dinner, followed by bread and butter pudding for afters. Washed my hair and had an early night'. That isn't to say there's anything wrong with that kind of blogging - I follow one just like that and its very banality is balm to my bruised soul after a hard day with the bewildered elderly - but it's not MY kind of blogging. I hoped I'd be writing funny things and ironic things and thoughtful things. When I couldn't think of any I just.....stopped. Better to leave people wanting more is my opinion.

So I've read a LOT of books; been on holiday; I met up with another blogger and her sweet, sweet children (Lisa flattered me by saying my blog is very funny....I'm as susceptible to praise as the next gal); and I've started investigating my family tree - there's something about a new series of 'Who Do You Think You Are' that brings out the genealogist in me. My inner nosy cow, you might say. But mostly I've been working very, very hard. We are almost full in our dementia unit and far from being the horrorfest I was dreading the residents are, for the most part, funny, bright, witty, spunky (can I say that nowadays?) and so willing to try new stuff. Several of the ladies (I call them my 'Clever Girls Club' which they love) are very aware that something is going wrong with them and are desperate to keep their minds active so we do all sorts of quizzes, crosswords and puzzles. It can be draining but it's very rewarding - not meaning to sound like a Miss World contestant here - and for the first time I can remember people are happy to see me at work. As opposed to thinking I'm a monumental pain in the ass like at most of my jobs.

So for now I think I'm back. I've got more stuff to say, including some thoughts on the nature of blogging and why we do it. I can't promise it'll be regular but I hope it won't be boring.

Friday, 29 June 2012

We Are Not Worthy

Our God and soldiers we alike adore
Ev'n at the brink of danger; not before:
After deliverance both alike requited,
Our God's forgotten and our soldiers slighted
Francis Quarles 1592-1644

Long ago when Red was just a tot and I was expecting Mr Charming I flew out to Florida to spend a few days with Big Man whose submarine was making a port visit there following a series of UK/US war games. It wasn't long after the first Gulf War and the Free World was still celebrating the liberation of Kuwait. It was Big Man's second port visit to Florida - the first had been several years earlier on a destroyer. At that time there had been an announcement about the visit on local radio and an 'Adopt A Sailor' scheme was instigated. Many Orlandians came forward and treated members of the crew to various fun activities. Big Man and his friend Scouse Easton were taken to a tequila bar by a businessman who proceeded to get them royally bladdered. Another guy was flown IN A PRIVATE JET to New York for the night! Yet others were treated to family-run hog roasts, barbeques and pool parties. The hospitality of the Americans and the way they accepted the visiting sailors, just because they were in the military (and Brits, I suppose), is something Big Man has never forgotten.
During the visit I made at the end of '91 we were amazed by the way service personnel and veterans were treated. There was a special 'Speed Queue' entrance for the military at Sea World and after Shamu had finished his (her?) performance the emcee asked all servicemen and women to stand up and get applauded by the rest of the audience. We were able to get access to any military base just on production of Big Man's ID card*, which was great because we were able to buy reduced 'Military Rates' price theme park entry tickets. Say what you like about the American people, they know how to treat the military and veterans. We were spoiled.

Even if I wasn't married to an ex-sailor and I didn't have many years as a Navy wife under my belt I still would have an awful lot of respect and affection for our Forces. All of my grandparents saw service in WWII - RAF, WRAF, Merchant Navy, Polish Free Air Force, ATS and a Military Nurse (that includes a step-grandad and a grandmother who first joined the ATS then went AWOL to join the WRAF because she 'liked the uniform better') - and I come from a port city that appreciates the Navy with a passion, thanks to their support in the Cod War. So I'm really outraged and disgusted when I read things like this article in the paper today. Six soldiers were turned away at the bar of a pub in Coventry when they tried to get a cup of coffee each. The six were in the city to act as pallbearers at the funeral of the brother of one of them, also a soldier, who was killed on active service in Afghanistan. A member of the bar staff had already taken their order before it was rescinded by the publican's daughter who told the men that it was the pub policy not to serve 'anyone in uniform' (including policemen, ambulancemen, nurses, bus drivers??? Doubt it).
The publican has, reluctantly, apologised after first refusing to do so and has given a £200 donation to the fund set up for the dead soldier's wife and child (they accepted it....I would've told him where to stuff it). He also explained that had he known the soldiers were in the city to act as pallbearers at a funeral they would of course have been served. Why does that make a difference? What sort of establishment refuses to serve military personnel in uniform at all? Coventry is hardly Aldershot or Portsmouth, full to the brim with testosterone-charged young fighting men....there can't be that many uniformed servicemen causing trouble in the Midlands - heck, even in Pompey you very rarely see a matelot in 8s.

Prince William wears 8s very handsomely

Years ago when the IRA were very active in the UK the MOD banned servicemen from wearing uniform outside of military establishments - their visibility could very seriously pose a threat to their safety - but nowadays it's encouraged. And so it should be. Protecting one's country is nothing to be ashamed of. A Facebook group set up to protest at the treatment received by the soldiers in Coventry has almost 100,000 members, which shows that many people are incredibly grateful to and proud of our Armed Forces. The outpouring of affection and admiration towards Lance Bombadier Ben Parkinson reinforces this feeling.

We lionise inarticulate footballers, vapid actors and autotuned singers whilst paying our frontline military crap wages; housing them in sub-standard homes; disrespecting their traditions and belittling their sacrifice. We give them no quarter, either during their careers when they could benefit from discounts and preferential access to services or after their period of engagement, when we send them to the bottom of the housing pile and refuse to acknowledge their service experience and achievements. What is wrong with this country? Every single serviceman is somebody's son, brother, husband. and we owe them so much. We don't deserve them.

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936

* this has never been a reciprocal arrangement to my knowledge and I doubt it happens in the US either now in these post-bin Laden days. I'm interested to hear about the military experience from any of my American readers.