Friday, 30 December 2011

Sally and Joe

Earlier this year an old lady moved into the home where I work for five days respite. Normally she was cared for at home by her husband Joe but he had to go into hospital for something very minor so Sally came to us.
She spent most of the time crying, and begging to be allowed to go home to 'my Joe'. It was really quite pitiful and I'm ashamed to say that my severely limited supply of compassion quickly depleted. Sally never knew this of course; nor did my colleagues - I am such an accomplished actress that even my most despised enemies go around believing I am their bosom buddy. But don't hate me for it - I get by how I can :(
Sally left after five days but she appeared again on December 17.... Joe had broken his ankle and was in hospital. Whilst he was there the doctors discovered he was riddled with cancer and had just a matter of days to live. Sally understood that Joe was very ill and that he didn't only have a broken ankle. And although it's not a hospice where I work Mac, our manager and Nadine, the matron pulled out all the stops to get Joe admitted to our place for his final few days. When the paramedics brought Joe into the room we'd prepared, next to Sally's, I couldn't believe that this wizened little old man had been caring for anybody all on his own, let alone Sally. She's not big, just a regular-sized pensioner but he seemed more dead than alive. Sally was in the lounge when Joe arrived last Wednesday afternoon, watching a special showing I'd laid on of 'White Christmas' so she didn't realise that he was there and I, in my wisdom, decided to let her watch the end of the movie, even though I knew I was going home before it ended.

You think you know what I'm going to say next, don't you?
You'd be wrong.

Joe survived until 7.30 the next morning. He and Sally had their reunion and she told me afterwards that he gave the biggest smile when he saw her face 'and he was my old Joe again'. Even though we hardly know Sally and we didn't know Joe at all we were all gutted for them...but happy too, in a melancholy way. Sally and Joe met when they were eight years old in the church choir. They liked each other then and always went back to each other. He was a joiner who provided for Sally and although they had no children of their own they were much-loved aunt and uncle to lots of nephews and nieces. Sally is sad but she knows he isn't in any more pain and she is thankful for all the years they had together. When she cries she says 'I'm so sorry, I know I shouldn't be doing this'. She is dignified in her distress because she says that 'Joe wouldn't want me to carry on like this. He'd say "Buck up Sally"'. I tell her that Joe hung on so he could see the face that was so precious to him one more time, and then he was able to go.

How lucky is Sally, that she's had that kind of love in her life? And how brave?

PS Because I detest New Year's Eve so much I have nobly volunteered to work a night shift tomorrow. If you go out please be careful! Love and luck to you all in 2012!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Dongle Merrily On High!!!

Well, it isn't ideal but since Sky Broadband are unable to reconnect us until December 30 (we tried to transfer our phone to them last month and have had no internet since then. Join my Facebook group 'Sky Broadband Stinks' for more info*) I am currently fighting with the rest of the crew to use Carb Addict's laptop and dongle. I couldn't list anything on eBay and I've done my Christmas shopping the shops, in other words. A pain in the crotch but not the end of the world. So the first thing to go was the internet; then just before the final of Strictly last Saturday the TV gave a terrifying crackle and died. Luckily (but to my shame) we have four other tellies in the house so were not too inconvenienced. Phew! And now the third thing (and they always, ALWAYS come in threes) the fan in the fan oven stopped working this evening. The cooker still works, thank goodness, so we won't have to cook the turkey on the barbie or in the dishwasher but still.....what a drag :(

In other news, Mexico was great - relaxing and hot. We slept a lot. Drank a lot of cocktails. Read stacks of books. Swam a bit. Sightsaw (is that a word? Sightseed? Saw some sights). Big Man snorkeled with massive great turtles. The beaches were beautiful. The people are friendly and very hard workers. I ate a pulled pork sandwich at the Hard Rock Cafe in Cancun that made me so ill I truly thought I was going to die thousands of miles from home and was laid up for 48 hours. We went to some ruins. I'm not gonna bore you with photos but we enjoyed ourselves enormously. 'Nuff said.
Work has been just crazy, really manic but it's just about done. I've organised parties; mince pie-making sessions; tree decorating; present wrapping; Secret Santa....tomorrow I have to buy and wrap seventeen old people's Christmas gifts then I'm done. Oh, and Big Man is playing Santa to them on Christmas morning, suited, booted and ho-ho-ho-ing for all he's worth with me as his gambolling helper. Fun fun fun!! I have my three babes at home for the holidays; presents just about all bought and everything wrapped; turkey crown and gammon  - if you want a gammon recipe that is to DIE for, try this one) - coming out of the freezer tomorrow; house all decorated (and our tree looks fab, even if I do say so myself); parcels posted off around the country AND received in one piece; I just have a lil' bit of food to buy, make my chocolate log (really a chocolate refrigerator cake with loadsa buttercream icing and my ma-in-law's vintage decorations on top) and yummy trifle a la Delia; and I'm ready. No stress. No worries.

I hope everyone's Christmas is everything you want it to be and that Santa brings you whatever your hearts desire. Rest up, take it easy, enjoy your families! As long as you're healthy and you're all together everything else is gravy. Merry Christmas!!!!! XXXXX


Sunday, 11 December 2011

(Not) OK Computer....:(

Home from holidays to no internet access and a welter of disinterest from Sky. Watch this space.....

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sunday, 13 November 2011


In preparation for my holiday next week I went to the salon today for waxing. It's more than a year since I was last there and my pain threshold has seemingly decreased in that time. When I was a regular I could almost fall asleep during the process but not today. I normally find shin fronts and ankles are the worst and backs of my legs the easiest. Bikini line is obviously pretty hair-raising too (Geddit? Hair-raising!) as are the armpits. Today was just a world of pain from beginning to end. This evening my underarms are burning and feel raw and as for the bikini line....well, best we don't even go there. All I will say is I'm walking like John Wayne. I salute any woman who can tolerate a Brazilian because I had to bite back a small scream when the beautician was splatting the hot wax around my nether regions and ripping hair out by the roots. There can't be many men who could bear it is all I can say.
It doesn't help that I'm....shall we say, on the hairy side. I'm not saying I'm
Frida Kahlo but pale skin and dark, strong hair (don't be fooled by the hair on my head - that hasn't been my real colour since I was 12) is a recipe for hirsuteness. I'm taking comfort from the fact that as you get older you get less hairy - the elderly lady residents I help care for are without exception hairless on their bodies. Not so on their upper lip and chin though....some of them need to be shaved as often as our men.

Talking about bikini waxing made me think of vajazzling (must stress I'm not planning any, just in case you get a little bit sick in your mouth at the idea) and in the interests of research I had a quick look at According to the website, 'vajazzling isn't that much different from other forms of bikini area decoration'. I must be a bit of a style numpty because I assumed, in my innocence, that the only form of bikini area decoration available was a pair of bikini bottoms. Red had explained to me quite a while ago what vajazzling is so I was surprised to see that not only can you be vajazzled on your back, arms or chest but that men can be vajazzled as well. Presumably a man very secure with his own sexuality. Or a groom-to-be's rite of passage on his stag night, much like having one eyebrow shaved off. Or a step up from a back, sac and crack wax for Red Nose Day (back to waxing again - sorry, I can't help it, my armpits are really sore!).
I don't see the point of it to be honest - the little stick on stones look cheap and nasty and really, if you think it looks a bit boring down below you could always use one of those Bazooka Joe transfers to cheer the 'bikini area' up. Or a tattoo. My dad went to sea with a man who had 'A Present For A Good Girl' with an arrow pointing downwards tattooed on his lower belly. And Babcia told me a story she'd heard about a trawlerman who used to go into the pub she worked in before she met my dad. Seems he had a couple of huntsmen tattooed on each buttock and a fox's tail disappearing into that place 'where the sun don't shine', as we say in polite society.

Now that's pain.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Hallowe'en Letdowns.....:(

Well, what a letdown was Hallowe'en this year. For the first time in ages we didn't have a single trick-or-treater at the door. We don't usually have many because we live on a main road and we are the only family house for maybe six blocks but there is a little estate fairly close; there are flats with children opposite; and we had the decorations outside before school closing time so passing kids could see we were 'ready and willing'! But no, not a sniff of a wee witch, ghost or ghoulie. I'd bought plenty of sweeties and they were in a skull bowl by the door so to save myself from temptation (there were Swizzels lollies....I ♥ Swizzels lollies!!!) I emptied them all into a bag and sent Carb Addict back to his placement with them. They are having a Hallowe'en/Bonfire party there on Thursday night so the sweets will be welcome. Before that I have to snag a black and white t-shirt and some black trousers I can cut down for him because this year he is dressing up as Pugsley Addams.

Carb Addict doesn't know yet and would care even less but we have a
long tradition of dressing up in this family so he has to comply!

I like Hallowe'en but I know plenty of people who don't. I was brought up in Dublin and, because they don't 'do' Bonfire Night there Hallowe'en was, and is very popular. I had heard of it when I lived in England, probably from watching Scooby Doo or The Osmonds cartoon show, maybe even The Addams Family but in a malignant Northern city in the early 70s there was next to no chance of finding a pumpkin, let alone making a Jack-o-Lantern. I do remember nattering Babcia for a pumpkin to carve and her giving me a turnip and a spoon. She's always been a joker.
Anyway, I do know that there are more spiritual meanings to All Hallows Eve but it's a fun holiday too. When I got back to England and had my own children I started trying to make something of it. I remember the first time I threw a party - Red was maybe a scrawny ten and Mr Charming a clueless eight and they both invited friends. Everyone was dressed up to one degree or another.....I had laboured over Red's Wonder Woman outfit for days - a boned corset top, satin knickers, boots and even the famous Lasso of Truth. I seem to remember Mr Charming was wearing his trusty Robin Hood outfit (also made by me for school book day - the tunic was made from snooker table baize), quite amenably* but Red was very grumpy, asking repeatedly 'but who IS Wonder Woman? I wanted to be a cat!'
The night in question was very cold and drizzly as I led fifteen children up and down the nearest residential road to us. Not one single person gave them anything and most wouldn't open their doors, or if they did were very ungracious. What a washout!
You'd think I'd learned my lesson really, wouldn't you but I was up for it again the following year. Sadly the children weren't and locked themselves in their rooms from October 15 until November 2.
Overall Red has had the most outfits made for her but they don't usually go down too well. She really liked the Medieval Queen outfit I made, the only time I used a pattern, complete with draped crown using fruit gums for jewels. She won first prize for that at a school she didn't go to, to the barely supressed fury of the other mothers. She tolerated the Cruella deVille outfit for World Book Day (the same day Mr Charming wore his Lincoln Green-o!)

They both liked their Hallowe'en Morticia and devil outfits which were made from a thrifted woman's dress each. Mr Charming's even had a hood and a cape that you can't really see. This was a competition too and in a complete and utter travesty, neither of them won anything!!!

She didn't mind the Polish traditional costume (which was only borrowed so no fear of having to say Mum made it).

But she hated the Carmen Miranda get-up, complete with fruity head ('who is she? Who is she? Nobody's ever heard of her but you!!') and the Ice Queen ensemble ('everybody could see my underwear!')...she just said that yesterday evening in fact when we were talking about costumes. A bit of an over-reaction.

Mr Charming favours this kind of outfit these days...

I would love, love LOVE to be invited to a fancy dress party but I never have been. I would have the best costume ever....not sure what it'd be but it'd be the best! In fact I'm going to start thinking about it right now....!

My other Hallowe'en letdown was at work. None of the staff but me made any effort, despite me trimming the lounge up with decorations; making a lovely ghost cake; and carving two pumpkins to go outside once it got dark (well, Red came over and carved one of them whilst at a loose end). I even went back to work after I'd finished with two candles for the Jack-o-Lanterns that I'd forgotten to take with me in the morning.
This morning when I got to work the pumpkins were still sitting on the table, obviously unused. Was I cross?! I asked my (currently not-so lovely) colleague Staś why they didn't put the pumpkins out and he started saying 'oh, it's all American crap, it's all commercial, you're not American, English people don't have Hallowe'en' and other carrying on. I was pretty hacked off because it doesn't matter what he was for the residents' benefit not his. We had to put the pumpkins out tonight instead, like gobshites who don't know what day it it.
He'd better watch it. His card's been marked, and not particularly by me.......

*having been dressed in a leotard to hop across the stage of the Southampton Guildhall, then as a blackberry (we got an awful lot of use out of that costume, which was made for Red's appearance in a gymnastics display) for something or other, Mr Charming welcomed any form of dressing up where he could keep his strides on. Even if they were Red's lime green leggings...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Where I Succumb - Big Time - To 'Wants, Not Needs'

It's half-term here which means Carb Addict is home from his placement (he usually goes on a Monday morning and comes home Friday afternoon) and Big Man has taken a week's time off in lieu to look after him. As much as an 18 year old who doesn't care whether you're there or not and is well able to entertain himself needs looking after. By the way, I advise anyone who might be thinking of visiting Intech near Winchester tomorrow to give a prancing young man with a mohawk and baggy trousers (he's run off a lot of weight despite eating...well, a lot of carbs, obviously) and a large, scowling, hungry-looking, ex-military type a wide berth. Just saying.....;P Red had the day off from portering so I took my day off today as well to spend some quality time together. The idea was that we would go to a local rummage sale at 9.30 then on to Gunwharf Quays at Portsmouth for a bit of Christmas shopping and general slurping around. This was going to be test of our willpower because apart from other shops there is a Cadbury's outlet there and we are both doing Slimming World right now.

At the last minute the plans had to change because Big Man's work rang to say that the driver standing in for him this week had suddenly entered a manic phase of his manic depression so could Big Man help them out blah blah blah.... He needed the car in the morning so we decided to go instead to Eastleigh which is a...well, I suppose it's a town. Bigger than a village and not a city so I guess small town would be right. It's very popular with me and Babcia when she visits because it has loads of charity shops including some small, obscure ones.

I think this shop is closed now but it was (not to put too fine a point on it) smelly
and odd. I got some really great stuff for eBay from here that I made loads on. 

However, we were not chazzing today, although I would've liked to. Of course I would! Instead we started in Claire's Accessories where they had an offer - spend £10 and get a voucher for £5 off your next spend of £10 or over. We were able to spend £10 with ease on barrettes - mine are little red horns and Red's are small, blood-spattered skeletal hands. She says she's wearing them to work at Halloween but I'm not so sure they're appropriate when she's taking people to theatre and back. And a pair of 'deer in a woodland scene' knee socks for Babcia. She always has very cold feet, plus she mainly wears black so these socks can be a splash of colour under her trousers. You didn't think I meant she'd wear them with a skirt did you? She's not that eccentric! The girl behind the counter was a bit naughty. She wasn't going to give me the £5 voucher at all - I had to ask her for it. Wonder how many people walked out without one?
Next we moved on to Monsoon and Accessorize where I saw the most beautiful enamelled bird trinket box for £15. I didn't succumb to that but I did tell Red I'd like it for Christmas if she was wondering what to buy me...:)

Pretty. I want it.

They also had delightful little enamelled robins, Christmas tree ornaments I think, which I would have loved. But as I'd spent £45 (yup, the succumbing started at B&Q yesterday. And now we have so many decorations we will have to put both our trees up this year) on decorations the day before, I hesitated to get more.

Pretty. I want it.

Red found a dress she liked and tried it on. At £35 I thought it was a bit steep and it's not for any particular occasion so I said she should ask them to keep it for her for a couple hours whilst she looked round. I hoped she would forget all about it and save her money. We had a quick skeg in New Look (tacky, poorly-made, unflattering to anyone over 15, not even particularly cheap - that was Red's opinion and she's only 21); Dorothy Perkins (lovely costume jewellery but nothing to make you say 'wow!'); then into my favourite store in the world, after Century 21 - TK Maxx. And the spending began....

Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Coconut Pecan Frosting...didn't need
Beano's Deli Mustard with Real Horseradish....didn't need either
Jelly Bean Factory Mint Sorbet Jelly Beans...didn't need but only 50p
Smoky Iguana Smoky Jalapeno Chipotle Salsa...definitely didn't need
Pair of Men's Socks by Pringle.....reduced but still unnecessary
Sebnini Floral Bouquet Scented Candle....not needed but oh, so wanted!
Sebnini Mimosa Scented Candle....ditto
Belle Maison Vanilla Verbena Scented Candle....definitely ditto!
Home Bake by Eric Lanlard.....Christmas present so semi-needed - just not right now
Desserts and Puddings Magnetic Jotter Pad.....another stocking filler...see above
Four Cupcake Soaps, Caramel Cream Variety.....ditto
July 2011 - December 2012 Diary...WHICH I NEEDED!!!!!
Advent Candle for Carb Addict.....would have got one sooner or later I suppose...
White Reindeer Head with Antlers to hang on the wall......ha! most definitely NOT needed but wanted sooooo badly.

And that, friends, is how you spend £65. I only feel a little shamefaced about the reindeer head but it is so cool and SUCH fun! I'll have to keep an eye on Carb Addict though - he seems a bit freaked out by it.

Similar to this but totally white. I'll post a pic when it's in situ!

I think because I haven't spent money on anything extraneous this year I went a bit wild but it won't happen again...just had to kick back for an afternoon. We finished off with a mooch around the wonder that is 99p Stores (if you don't have one near you then I pity you because 99p Stores RAAAAAWWWKKK!!!!) Who would believe that you could get so much wonderful, incredible stuff for less than a quid....sometimes two items for less than a quid!!! Forget Poundland, 99p Stores knocks it into a cocked hat. Despite it's all-round fabbishness however, we didn't buy anything. This time.

Red went back and bought the dress by the way. It is currently still in the bag at the bottom of the stairs, where I expect it to stay until I take it up to her room. I'm not the only one who succumbed to 'wants, not needs' today.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Kettlebells R Us

This evening Red and I tried a kettlebells class. I'd wanted to give it a go since I saw that very butch fitness instructor putting the contestants through their paces with them in 'The Biggest Loser'. And Red came along because....well, because I offered to pay for her I suppose. Plus we wanted to escape our numbingly-cold house for an hour.

This class is hardcore (as my colleague Staś would say)! I can feel my joints seizing up already and I know I'm going to be hobbling around at work tomorrow just like my residents. I had a nasty accident right at the start of the class doing something called 'Round The World' when I managed to throw a 3kg kettlebell onto my foot. The pain was excruciating, absolutely terrible. It was all I could do not to collapse to the floor and start blubbing. Luckily, I remembered just in time that I am Northern and we leave that kind of carry-on to Southern softies. I waited until I got home to milk my injury....for all the good it did me.

We've booked to go again next week, despite agreeing that it was odd the instructor, a man in his mid-forties would say that he was 'passionate about kettlebells'. We had a juvenile snigger over that....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ms Un-Perky of Southampton Writes........

" old does one need to be before one truly understands that in life there is no such thing as reciprocation?
I first had an inkling of this many years ago when, as a child our family took a short holiday at Butlins in Filey, Yorkshire. We often took one of these unexpected and at very short notice holidays and unlike other families we usually went back 'home' to a different house...often in another country!! It was most unenjoyable for several reasons....I stepped out of a swingboat on the side that didn't have a step down and fell to the ground, knocking out a front tooth and smashing my nose in - I was a chubby child and the poor soul who carried me back to our chalet was in greater need of medical attention than I when we finally got there; whilst watching an instructor and a Redcoat having a play fight on a large trampoline the Redcoat bounced off on top of me and almost knocked me out. But as he explained, it was really my own fault for standing with all the other children who, like me were waiting for their trampoline lesson; my younger sister was banished from the creche for constantly crying; the unending rain; falling into the freezing outdoor pool fully clothed; my father was angry and antsy because there wasn't a betting shop on site; failing to win the Lovely Mother and Daughter Competition (also, inevitably, my fault); and I discovered that people are not always as open-hearted to you as you may be to them. Every afternoon there was entertainment of some kind in the theatre put on by the holidaymakers usually - talent contests, Glamorous Granny contests, that kind of thing. It was the 70s. And the optimum seat for the best view, the one that all the children tried to get was front row, right side on the aisle. One day I was lucky enough to nab this seat early and was waiting with anticipation for the Knobbly Knees event, or somesuch extravaganza. A girl that I had become fairly friendly with came sidling along and asked whether she could share the seat with me - not an easy task since, as I mentioned earlier, I had more chins than a Chinese phonebook. However I agreed and we spent a most uncomfortable couple of hours crammed into a theatre seat. I didn't mind - I had a friend.
The next day I was a little later getting to the the theatre and my friend was in the prime seat, next to her family. I went up to her and asked if we could share the seat with her, since that's what we'd done yesterday. My friend scowled at me and her mother leaned over and told me to 'clear off', leaving me in no doubt that I was as welcome as a fart in a sleeping bag (excuse my French!) therefore giving me my first real lesson in the perfidy of people.
So my question is, why am I still surprised and saddened when my nearest and dearest lack reciprocation? Last night I was unwell enough to take to my bed at 7pm. The dishes from dinner were still in the sink this morning (which goes against all Flylady principles, not that I'd expect my husband and daughter to know that!) when I got up. Nobody had the decency to do a little something, ie load and start the dishwasher for me when I do so much for them whether they are ill or not. When will I ever learn that doing nice things for people does not guarantee that they will help you out by doing nice things for you? In other words, when will I stop being a well-used doormat?
I await your response eagerly."

'Ms Un-Perky of Southampton'

PS  The mug belongs to Red, the least likely jolly hospital porter and volunteer-with-disadvantaged-children in the world.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Shame, Shame, Shame

Firstly, can I get a DAMMIT! My clothes line just snapped and all the clothes ended up on the muddy garden, including Big Man's work uniform. But luckily not mine, so that's something lol. The line had been getting more and more threadbare (is that what I mean? When strands are pinging off?) and both I and Big Man were aware of it. Do I need tell you that when I called him out to the garden, after tying one end to our dead apple tree, his first question was 'what can I do about it?'. And his second? 'I thought you were going to replace it'. Me, who works all day with old people and doesn't drive around the city delivering things, with all the opportunities to stop at one of the four local B&Q stores that brings? Me, who isn't an ex-submariner and knot expert? Me, who has never bought rope or put up a clothes line before? Sorry, isn't's work? And to put the tin hat on it, as Big Grandma used to say, the clothes basket had been left out on the garden all night and as I went to throw the clothes in it before taking them to the tumbler (boooo!!!!) I noticed a bird had crapped in it. What's that saying? Some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue....

Anyway, my post about guilt struck a chord with some of you. I feel guilty because I'd rather do anything than housework and I continually feel that I'm a housework slut. I look at craft blogs and rather than think 'my goodness, that felt corsage with a button sewn on it is fabulous!' I imagine how pristine the blogger's home must be in order for her to have the time and clear conscience to make little 'pretties'. My house is just full of....well, I call it eBay stock, Big Man calls it shite (he's not the most eloquent of men). We both agree it's 'stuff'. When we made our annual visit to my sis-in-law Sophie's place which is very minimalist and clean, all I could say afterwards was 'where was all her stuff?'. I tend to think people without oodles of 'stuff' are pretty boring (well I would, wouldn't I ;P) and was gratified when a first-time visitor to our place, a friend of Red's said yesterday 'you've got so much cool stuff here!'. (As an aside, Carb Addict was prancing around to 'The Boys Are Back In Town' on my iPod wearing blue winceyette pjs and a jaunty Tyrolean hat, picked up for 50p last week in a charity shop. We strive to make an impression chez nous).

In an attempt to bring some order to my life and because I just CAN'T live in this turmoil any longer, I have decided to follow Flylady's Beginner BabySteps program. Plenty of people on swear by it though it looks a bit like nibbling round the edges to me at the moment. Day One was Shine Your Sink. Day Two is Get Dressed And Tie Your Shoes Up. Hmmm. That doesn't really help when my cupboards look like this:

 We have two sets of stairs at our place - this is the cupboard under the kitchen stairs.
It's full of implements I just HAD to have - mini chopper, giant cupcake baking tin,
apple peeler, burger maker. Utterly shameful mess.

Cupboard under (now shined) sink. Note nine bottles of Stardrops.
Can't find anything in here without getting everything else out :(

Tins, veggies, stuff from Approved's all crammed in here.
Luckily I was able to thin it out a bit this evening by donating to Carb Addict's
Harvest Festival. Hope they like hot dog sausages!

Cereals we don't eat but kept in case I decided to make Rocky Roads one day.
I've made Rocky Roads loads of times but the cereal remains unused.
Everything falls on top of me when I open these doors.

I tried to organise this cupboard by getting Big Man to cut pieces of 2"x4" that I
could use as tiers on the shelves but it didn't really work. Plus I can't reach the top shelf
so can only use honey when Big Man or Mr Charming are home. Or get a chair,
and frankly who can be arsed with that?

So you can see why I think shining my sink is not going to make much of an impact in the scheme of things. I AM going to make a big effort in the next few weeks to tidy and declutter as much as I can - after all, it's one of my goals on my profile so I suppose I've got to do it. I always have this feeling that I'm not allowed to do things I enjoy or like, or even just slack off whilst the house is so messy - almost as if I don't deserve to kick back when there's so much to be's that female guilt thing again I guess. I just can't let things go to rack and ruin whilst I sew or knit or paint or read and though I doubt very much that Big Man would say 'why are you reading Heat magazine when this place looks like a tip?' (he wouldn't dare!) I always imagine that he disapproves.

Maybe I've just got a complex. Am I (and my house) beyond hope?

Saturday, 15 October 2011

This Woman's Guilt Is Never Gone

Why is it that despite being debilitated by painful sinuses and the start of a cold (that would be SO much worse if I didn't dose myself with vitamins daily) I still feel that I have to spend my weekends cleaning, tidying, cooking and baking? Why can't I lay around, doing a bit of light F1 watching, reading the paper and having a bath like others in this house do? I work 24 hours a week ~ not a lot compared to some I know ~ but then I start all over again when I get home. Or I am killed with guilt that I'm not doing the motherly/wifely/ housekeepery thing. I kind of wish I could be one of those women who have their husband running around after them, shopping and doing the housework. All I know is I spend my weekends fighting a losing battle against chaos. Something's gotta give.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Dancing Feet, I've Got Those Dancing Feet

When she was a little girl Babcia couldn't sit still so she was sent to dance class. She did a bit of ballet but mainly tap and carried on, the star of every show, until she was 15.

 Babcia about 6 on the left. What a little dolly! Maybe 15 on the right.

She  was an excellent dancer apparently and because her mum, my Big Grandma had also danced as a child it was very much encouraged. Money (well, what little they could spare) and time was lavished on costumes which were usually homemade by Big Grandma and her mum; my great-granny, Little Grandma. Both of the costumes in the photos were made with love by the handy females of the family....clever, weren't they? Even though the family were very poor - didn't have two pennies to scratch their arses with, in the vernacular of my malignant Northern home town - money was always found for Babcia's dance classes. I guess she was a source of pride to them, winning competitions, appearing in shows and so on.....times were hard and God love 'em, they needed something. 

Fast forward fifteen years and Babcia had her own daughter (that would be li'l ole porkster me). And what was more natural than sending her to dance class? I started off at Mrs Bradley's and did Ballet, Tap and Acro, which was acrobatics and the bit I loved most - I was always upside down, doing the splits or walking on my hands and was pretty good at it too. The studio was at the top of some stairs and we always started with a kind of warm-up that entailed us doing tap, ball-change; tap, ball-change all around the room to Mr Bradley pounding out 'Walking My Baby Back Home' on the poorly tuned piano. If I ever hear that music it flings me right back to dark winter nights up those rickety stairs.

I went to a class there on a Saturday morning too and I remember a horrible incident that wouldn't happen nowadays - Health and Safety has some good points. We didn't have a barre and had to hold on to the back of a chair to do warm up, including where you kick to the front, side and back from the hip with a straight leg. One big girl (so probably about 11 to my 7 or 8) must have been kicking a bit too mulishly, the chair tipped over, she fell and her knee was dislocated. It looked horrific and the screams from her were just awful. An ambulance was called and when it arrived the paramedics had to manhandle this poor child down the stairs. I remember thinking at the time that she was making a show of herself but with hindsight I see she was just a little girl and for sure she was in agony. Strange the things you remember...
I have a second cousin who is a couple months younger than me and her mum, the aunt of Babcia, wanted Martha to dance too so consequently she followed me from dance class to dance class like a bad credit score (I never stayed anywhere for long). If I was a porkster she was a girl mountain....together we were Pinky and Perky made flesh, our chunky knees, dimpled thighs and straining leotards marking us as different from the sprightly little pixies who made up the rest of the student body. And even at 10 I had enough dignity to realise the teacher's suggestion that Martha and I appear in a duet as Tweedledee and Tweedledum in the annual county-wide Musical Festival was A Very Bad Idea.

Friends, I left with as much dignity as a little round ugly duckling could muster.

Undaunted I enrolled both Red AND Mr Charming in tap and ballet classes. Whilst tidying a cupboard the other day I came across Red's ballet bag with her leotard and stuff in and couldn't believe how small it was. She liked ballet ("good toes! naughty toes!") and Mr Charming tolerated tap (I found his weeny tap shoes too) though the fact that he hated ballet didn't stop him being inveigled into appearing in the Christmas Gala as a robin in a brown leotard and beak. I must find the video of that performance....! By the time Red was 6 or 7 I enrolled her in gymnastics too and within a really short space of time she was moved from a little 'for fun' class into the city squad, training for 12 hours a week. Yep, that's right, kids of 7 and 8 train for 12 hours a week in this country. The problem is, if your child shows any spark of being good at gym they're pounced on and really worked hard....I know because after three years Red had a crushed disc in her back to prove it. I think we're so desperate for sporting success in the UK that we push children too hard and not all can cope with it. Red accepted before I did that she was never going to be good enough to go far as a gymnast (I'm as guilty as all the other pushy moms out there who want something more for themselves than for their child) and gave it up. I don't need to tell you either that Mr Charming is NOT Gene Kelly in-waiting!

Still, the family love affair with dancing continues. Whilst at Babcia's at the weekend my sister-in-law came to visit with my niece and nephew, Lili and Little Baby Jack. Although she doesn't yet go to dance class she loves to try on the tap shoes Babcia bought her and do a routine. This time Babcia put her tappers on too!!!

Although it looks false that is actually Babcia's real leg -
she asked me to make sure I pointed that out

Putting on the shoes seemed to turn Lili into a whirling dervish - a kind of tiny tapping tornado. She's just four and has an amazing she is in her magic shoes that won't stop dancing once you put them on (and no, she hasn't seen The Red Shoes). 

I only wish I could show you a second film with Lili's face in it....her expressions are an absolute scream, she's putting everything she has into it - confusion, terror, disbelief, exhaustion - I'd forgotten how comical little children can be! But I promised her mum I'd keep her identity a secret. Until she appears on 'You've Been Framed!' that is.

Something tells me this family's dancing days are far from over :)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Where I Do Something Good And Not Just With Cake.....

I thought it might be a good idea to bash a post out whilst waiting for the flea man to arrive - his ETA is 'between 08.30 and 13.00' and it's now 11.30. I'm starting to worry that he's already been here, tried our notoriously temperamental door bell, got no response and cleared off again. Which would be not only very bad from the severely bitten Big Man's point of view but very annoying from the point of view of the person who got everything up off the floor in readiness for the spraying. That would be moi. Here's a tip on how you can tell there are fleas in your carpet; your cat won't lie down on any surface lower than 3ft. Hence Otto is currently asleep (or trying to sleep, in between my accusational rants at him) on the work surface in the kitchen. Yeah, I know it's not very hygienic but I'll get the Cillit Bang out later....

Anyway, that's by-the-by. I wanted to write about last Thursday when I did A Very Good Thing. We got a letter from Macmillan a couple months back asking if we would hold a Coffee Morning to raise funds. I talked it over with Mac, my manager and we decided to go for it. The home I work in is surrounded by sheltered accomodation flats...talking about incredibly independant old people here who own their flats and go out shopping in their mini-bus each week, garden, walk laps of the grounds in a healthy stylee - not sad, isolated, poor pensioners. We're building up links with our neighbours so I invited them to the fundraiser. Well, I invited their spokeslady Betty and she did the rest. I sent invitations to the school-on-the-corner; put our event on the Macmillan website; heck, I even baked. Peanut Butter Cupcakes and Best Lemon Bars if you're interested. I took the makeup we'd had donated plus plenty of other stuff Boots had given; found lots of items for raffle prizes (because I haven't got enough life left to use all the body lotion sets I've received at Christmases and birthdays lol!); and went to local supermarkets to ask for cake donations.....Co-op and Sainsburys, you rock! Tesco and Lidl, you stink! I was very nervous beforehand and also worried that I wouldn't be able to cope with everything on my own but Red very kindly came over and was a great big help plus one of the carers, Twinkle, gave up her afternoon off and was also fab. I couldn't have done it without them because we were totally over-run with guests.

We made almost £35 for Macmillan and just under £100 for the Residents Fund. I hope nobody thinks that it was a bit underhand not to give all the proceeds to Macmillan but the way I look at it is the charity gets £35 from our guests that it wouldn't otherwise have had and I made it very overt that the raffle, make-up sale, plus a book sale we held too were all to raise funds for our residents. Fundraising is part of my job and if the Coffee Afternoon ended up being a vehicle for our own cause, well I'm not gonna apologise for that. Next thing is a party for Halloween. I wanted to have fireworks (and knowing my daughter I don't suppose anybody will be surprised to hear she has a friend who is a pyrotechnician. Sets fireworks off for a living in other words!). He was happy to do the job and provide the fireworks but Health and Safety has reared its ugly head and we can't do it....the old people's flats are too close to us. And even I can see that it wouldn't do to incinerate them before they've helped us raise enough money to see the Christmas panto...

Lakota has asked about the Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake. It was divine, my dears! The recipe is from a fantastic book I got (I think) from eBay called The Great American Bake Sale. I'm a massive fan of American cookery books and although they can be tricky to use, because they measure things differently to the UK, they're fine if you have the American cups and liquid cups jug. Mine came from the US but I assume you can get them online. I also have an absolutely fab book that I bought ages ago called American Cooking in England - it's written by Delora Jones, an American ex-pat who gives all sorts of measurement conversions plus she tells you what American ingredients are called in the UK. Did you know that what we call chick peas they call garbanzo beans? Very, very useful but sadly out of print right now. Delora does however have an updated version coming out next month though at £28 it's a bit steep if you're just a casual American recipe user. I see there is ONE copy of The Pocketbook Guide To American Cooking in England on Amazon for £3.99.....

Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake - makes one 9 x 13-inch sheet cake

1lb SR flour
1lb castor sugar
3T cocoa powder
1t bicarbonate of soda
1/2 pint Coke (not cheapo version, must be the Real Thing!)
8oz butter or margerine
4floz buttermilk (I used regular milk with a biggish squeeze of lemon juice)
2 eggs, well-beaten
1t vanilla extract
4oz mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 175C

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarb in mixing bowl. Combine Coke and butter/marg in saucepan and bring to boil. Pour over dry ingredients and stir to blend. Mix in buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and marshmallows (batter will be thin). Pour into greased and floured (I use Wilton Cake Release instead. Get it at The Range or Lakeland) 9 x 13-inch pan. bake 35-38 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes then spread with warm frosting.

Coca-Cola Frosting

4oz butter or margerine
6T Coke
3T cocoa powder
1lb icing sugar
5oz chopped, toasted pecans

Combine butter, Coke and cocoa in saucepan and bring just to boil. Pour over icing sugar and blend until smooth (I did this with my stick blender). Stir in pecans. Use while warm.

This is just gorgeous, if not a bit sickly. I found it took longer than even 38 minutes to cook because it's a very runny batter in a biggish tin so I had to cover it with foil half way through to stop it burning whilst it cooked. You don't HAVE to put pecans in the frosting but it makes it damned delicious if you do. And no, I don't have any photos - it didn't last that long. You can find the recipes for Peanut Butter Cupcakes and Best Lemon Bars in The Great American Bake Sale too....only 46p plus postage on Amazon.
Go gettit folks!!!!!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Otto In Disgrace




A BILL FOR £103!!!!!

Toodle-oo For Now, Mr Charming!

Oh my word, writing that title took me back to my childhood when I was a fan of books such as:

I was such a massive Enid fan...still am, secretly. In fact I might just make a resolution on to re-read all my favourite series - Malory Towers; the Five Find-Outers (my special favourites); St. Clare's; the Faraway Tree; the Wishing Chair; Secret Seven and Famous Five. I read on The Enid Blyton Society's website that she wrote 186 novels alone..not counting character books (eg Noddy, Naughty Amelia Jane etc), short stories, education books and recreation books. Talk about prolific!! However, that's another post, maybe.

Today I battled through the beach-seeking missiles heading towards Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth to take Mr Charming back to uni after his five-month extended lie-in, aka the summer break. The AA website gave a time of 3 1/2 hours; the satnav 4 1/4, but thanks to the sand-hungry throngs it took over 5 hours - Southampton to Falmouth is a long way! Still, the weather was heavenly and the views brought home to me exactly what we have here that brings tourists to our shores. At its best England is the most beautiful country on earth and today Hampshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall were definitely showing off. The sky wasn't the vibrant turquoise you find in the Med; more a pale 'Congratulations! It's a Boy' blue, moving through duck-egg with a hint of Argentina football shirt. The fields were laid before us in a patchwork of greens, mustards, browns and yellows and the distant hills ranged from rocky outcrops of granite and green to palest lilacy-grey. And then, not far from Truro we suddenly saw a lake or maybe a reservoir, just plopped in the middle of the fields like a shimmering blue jewel, all the more beautiful for being so unexpected.

Not my photo but trust me, it looked like this!

Along the way, taking advantage of the weather were numerous cars with their roofs down, the occupants (without exception middle-aged couples or lone, midlife crisis-type men) wearing expressions that were a mixture of smugness and embarrassment - we're not an ostentatious nation and let's face it, a VW Golf on the A30 isn't quite a '56 Thunderbird on Route 66. They all looked extremely windblown and not especially comfortable to me but I appreciate that it's important to get your value out of a convertible on the few days a year when it's hot enough to do so....there are plenty of days to come when they'll be scraping the ice off the windscreen and complaining that the heater's a pig that takes ages to warm up. So I think I can allow them their day in the sun....

It was lovely to spend time with Mr Charming too. The conversation was inconsequential, full of 'do you remember?' moments. He didn't remember the time I saw a strange hamster at the top of our stairs that had disappeared by the time I got up there. It might have been a guinea pig, but the odd thing was we didn't own either. We talked about the time baby Carb Addict's backside exploded in a tsunami of noxious sage-coloured slime whilst we were on a riverboat shuffle at EuroDisney. With my usual lack of foresight I had neither spare nappy nor change of clothes for either of us with me, resulting in our being circumvented by trippers of all nationalities for the rest of the day. On the same holiday we had to abandon our flimsy McLaren pushchair at the Arc de Triomphe when it collapsed beyond repair and spent the day joking that the French police might blow it up in a controlled explosion in case it was a bomb aimed at the Pope, who was visiting Paris. Mr Charming attempted to explain to me the finer points of online, cult film critique websites with special reference to the films of Jeremy Irons and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, whilst every so often I ran feverishly through a list of Important Things he should have packed. We stopped at a little shop to get a drink and were served by a young man so perky he wouldn't have been out of place in Erinsborough. Mr Charming, for reasons best known to himself, was wearing a pair of these;

on top of his head. The bumptious young man, all sincerity, shiny face and deck shoes said 'Cool goggles. Are you a welder?'. Mr Charming gave that chap a look of such loathing and only his innate...charmingness, I suppose, stopped him from thrashing the assistant to within an inch of his life with a copy of Dorset Life magazine. He will never know how close he came to death by newsprint. 

After ages we finally got to the flat which I've got to say is an improvement on the place Red shared in Lewisham. Very impressive in fact - they even have a dishwasher! And the view from their window is fantastic. It's on a fairly narrow street and the block is kind of built into the side of a hill, making it seem as if they have the basement when it's actually the ground floor. Tesco is close, as is the beach  and the town centre. The halls Mr Charming was in last year were on a kind of promontory and an icy wind blew in from Newfoundland October to March. At least he'll be warm now. His two housemates seemed very nice though not at all what I expected. Luke is small and fey with bleached hair and was prancing around with excitement about the kitchen appliances whilst Joe has scarlet hair and a broad Manc accent. They all met in halls last year so presumably know enough about each other to know they'll get on okay. Mr Charming will be home again on November 17 but I'll be on the plane to Mexico that day (if I remember lol!!) so I won't see him until Christmas now. Sob sob sigh!

Pic from here

I'd like to say the journey home was quicker but it was far, far worse....oceans of cars crawling along, in the dark, and no matter how far I progressed my ETA, according to the satnav was always half an hour. When I finally got in at 9 I was fit to be tied. Red had cooked dinner but I didn't realise she'd saved me some until I'd eaten four squares of Chocolate Coca Cola Cake. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day....

When I texted Babcia to let her know I'd got home from Fal safely she replied 'I can sleep easier now!', proving that mums never stop worrying about their children. I think Mr Charming's gonna be okay....I can sleep easier tonight too.

He'll always be my sweet baby boy....!

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Name's Plonker......Mrs Plonker

You know you have way, WAY too many things on your mind when you pack your bags for a mini-break in Liverpool that you should have set off for LAST Monday. Oops!

But I'd be sadder about missing this...

....if I hadn't just booked this......


Riviera Maya on the Caribbean Coast. Leave on the 17 November, Silver Wedding anniversary the next day (upgrade to First Class? Don't mind if I do!), come home very brown and very chilled on 2 December. Adults only hotel, because let's face it, you don't wanna leave your own little twerps at home and end up chewing around with other people's, now do you? I can smell the quesadillas now!

Yep, a fortnight in Mexico somehow dulls the pain of missing three days on the Mersey. Even for the legendarily crabby Big Man...

Getting Back In The Game

It's my nature to be an optimistic person. Some might say stupidly, against-the-odds optimistic - not about unlikely things like winning the Lotto or being left a legacy by a long lost relative, but just about Things Turning Out Okay.

You know what? Usually they do.

I have to be very tired and under pressure to throw a wobbler and to be honest, what good does it do? I still have to go to work - I can only hope we get more staff to ease things for the rest of us. That should be happening the start of October. I will also NOT volunteer to work three carer nights in a row ever again because I clearly can't hack it without turning into a petulant, cranky child.

I still have to (and of course I want to really) live with Big Man, Red and their interminable fallings out. Next time it happens and they try to involve me I am just gonna put my fingers in my ears and start singing. I feel too old and too weary to be carping about who tidies the dining room or unloads the dishwasher and really, when she's 21 and he's 46 aren't we a bit past all this? The problem is when there is a bad atmosphere in the house following one of their falling outs I can't stand it (neither of them seem to notice or care) and find myself madly over-compensating like a total dork. Note to self....must toughen up....

I still need to carry on eBaying so I can make some extra money. I won't go into the injustice of being negged without having a chance to put whatever is supposed to be wrong, right. I will just content myself by saying that I sincerely hope the next pair of vintage trousers the buyer gets rip her crotch out. Bad cess to her.

I have to carry on with my frugal living, money saving and debt repayment. I am in charge of this part of our lives so I can't just give up. We seem to have had a couple of haywire months and I can't even say why, despite keeping spreadsheets of expenses. I had worked really hard to bring down a massive electricity bill by paying £175 a month direct debit. Added to this a turning off lights/not using tumble dryer/going to bed early regime and I'd got it down to £500 or so. I was really thrilled then when EDF wrote and said that my direct debit was going down to £80 a month - I didn't read the bit where it said that any outstanding amount had to be paid IN FULL following a payment review. Erm....don't have that sort of money spare. That bounced. Then the £80 direct debit bounced. Twice. Now I can't pay my electricity by direct debit at all so will have to be super-organised and put that into an account every month to pay off the bill. And I have another bill from EDF for £275.34 (say what?) and if I don't pay it immediately my electricity will be cut off. This is all spiralling crazily - it's lucky I have a biggish wage coming at the end of the month because financially the merde just keeps on coming. We were doing so well too....

Still, life goes on. Soon Mr Charming will go back to uni; Carb Addict is back at school; and Red looks as if she's here for the duration, having split up acrimoniously (on his part) with PC Furious, settled into her portering job and met someone new (already!). Things will get on an even keel again for a while and I'll keep on doing the same as Old Blue Eyes...

Each time I find myself flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race

We're off to Liverpool for a couple of days. I'll bring you all something back....

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

She's Lost Control

How incredible is the speed with which life can turn to crap.

Finances. Crap.
Work. Crap.
Relationships. Crap.
Motivation. Crap.
I even got negged on eBay. Crap.

It's really hard to be comical about life when it's busy booting you in the teeth, so suffice it to say I am alive, not giving up blogging but just rebuilding my defences, hunkering down and seeing this phase through. Sorry I can't be more entertaining about it....

Thursday, 15 September 2011

What Is This????

Anybody able to identify this fruit? I got it from a tree whilst I was taking one of my residents for a walk. It's about 1 1/2", tastes like an apple, is red all the way through and is quite hard though I think it's ripe. It's not tart like a crab apple.....

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Right now I'm working my socks off and I'm busier than the busiest bee in Busytown. But I will be back real soon. Y'all come back now, y'hear??

Monday, 29 August 2011

Hey Mr DJ Put A Record On...

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent
Victor Hugo

Although there are a lot of ways in which I haven't yet grown up, my most teenage trait is always having to have music on wherever I go. When I had my own car the first thing I did before I set off anywhere was to decide what I was going to listen to. In the days when I bought CDs I would play a new one over and over again - the most recent was Plan B's 'The Defamation of Strickland Banks'. Do you remember when you were young and you came home with a single on a Saturday? You played it so many times that your Mum would call up 'you'll wear that record out'? And can you recall your very first 45? Mine was Ball Park Incident by Wizzard (ages me just a bit!). For me there was nothing better than stacking all your fave songs onto the record player and letting them drop one by one onto the turntable. I think my record (geddit!) was eight. And they were record players in the 70s - stereos and sound systems were yet to come. A year or so before she died my sister V got hold of an old record player for me and I think of her every time I listen to some old Northern Soul (the ONLY way to listen to Northern Soul is on vinyl, dont'cha know?)

Without music life would be a mistake
 Friedrich Nietzsche

I was brought up in a house full of music. One of my earliest memories is Babcia's copy of Little Peggy March's 'I Will Follow Him'. The first time we watched Sister Act I said to Big Man 'I know this song!'. The original isn't remotely religious, btw...just a good old love song :). Dad was into Elvis, Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry and Little Richard - a real 50s rocker. But he also loved C&W and when he was home from sea we always had Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette on the record player. Sometimes Irish showbands (The Hucklebuck doesn't sound the same if Brendan Bowyer isn't singing it). So I have an eclectic kind of musical heritage. Then my uncle, Al introduced me to Northern Soul; I already had picked up on Tamla Motown (anyone else have that Diana Ross and the Supremes album with the three pairs of red lips on the front?); and punk came along. I was always more into the music than the attitude though I did love the amazed looks when I walked along Moore Street in Dublin wearing a man's shirt, a pair of red and white polka dot bikini bottoms, the ubiquitous ripped fishnets and a pin in my ear. And I did learn to play the drums, after a fashion, when I was in my 'band'.

Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music
Sergei Rachmaninov

Music has been part of every part of my life. Sad times. Happy times. Furious times. Sleepy times. My iPod is going all the time (just listening to 'Venus' by Bananarama, before that was 'The Great Gate of Kiev'; 'This Boy' by the Beatles; 'Golden Brown' by the Stranglers, 'Ruler of My Heart' by Irma Thomas....). I love seeing bands live, even though sometimes I feel a bit old and small surrounded by Amazonian teens. I don't think I could ever really be friends with anyone who doesn't love music and I'm always open to new stuff and to be persuaded to listen to new bands - only yesterday Red introduced me to The Devil Makes Three - but I still put the oldies on for my residents rather than sit them in front of the TV. Ethel, who I told you about a few posts ago, doesn't react to much but when Frankie Laine's 'Answer Me' came on the CD player the other day she pointed to it and was listening intently. Maybe it was her and her husband's song? Whatever it was it sparked something in her brain that 'Deal or No Deal couldn't possibly ignite.

Where words fail, music speaks
Hans Christian Andersen

So, what I'm going to do is throw out five songs that mean a lot to me for varied reasons. And because I'm a nosy so-and-so I'm going to tag five people in a kind of musical meme. Don't do it if you don't want to but I think the music people like says a lot about them. Indulge my curiosity!!
In no particular order.....

1. September Song by Walter Huston
This was played at my sister V's funeral (she was born in September) and is so melancholy and beautiful that if it doesn't do something to you I can only think you have lump of granite where your heart should be.

2. Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf
When Big Man and I got our first car (a Ford Capri - very boy racer!) we used to drive up to see both sets of parents and played Meatloaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell' album on tape all the way there and back. We always sang along with this one - obviously I was Ellen and he was Meat. I use 'sang' in the loosest way possible....

3. Third Finger, Left Hand by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
This was the B side of Jimmy Mack, a big hit for this group and probably the better song. When I was in my late teens I used to go with my friends to Tiffany's, a big nightclub in my malignant Northern home town, and whenever a bride-to-be was celebrating her hen night this was always played. I really wanted it to be played for me too but I only got married in the registry office and didn't have a hen night. And Tiff's was no more by then either.

4. Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor
Beautiful song, gorgeous girl, and UK Number 1 the week my own gorgeous girl Red was born.

5. Have I The Right? by The Honeycombs
I was given this record when I was pretty young and loved it. The drummer is a girl, Honey Lantree, which was unusual for the 60s, and I just love the beat!!!!

I'll probably pick a different five next week! Anyway, I'm gonna tag five people who I want to know more about.

Wendz at 15 Coast Road
The Minimalist at Tasmanian Minimalist
Elise at Foof and Faff

Tag another five each if you want. Because as we all know...

Music brings the people together