Thursday, 31 March 2011

Guilty Pleasures

Or do I mean low-brow pleasures maybe?
Yesterday in Lidl I planned to buy Closer magazine and was only thwarted (or maybe came to my senses) when the checkout operator couldn't scan it in. 'Don't worry' says I, 'I should probably be reading the Guardian ot the Times anyway, and worrying about Japan or the economy'. 'But why?' said the middle-aged, male, Turkish checkout operator. 'We all need some sex, drugs and rock and roll in our lives' (till operators being very hot on 20th century cultural references in our local supermarkets). And I suppose he's right. No matter how cerebral we might think we are (not very in my case)a bit of escapism is still nice. And so I am devouring 'Goodnight Lady' by Martina Cole. It's a gangster story with a strong female lead (there we go again, me and my 'strong women' obsession) - does she write any other kind? There are also twin boys in it; East End hardmen who are identical, have names beginning with the same letter and live with their (surrogate) mother....sound familiar? It's good fun and I will be watching the new series 'The Runaway' which is based on one of her might even start tonight!

What's your guilty pleasure?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

You Know You're Getting Old When.....

...your ex-heart-throbs are pictured looking like this...

Oh Lewis Collins, time has been unkinder to you than she has to Martin Shaw, the Sam Tyler of his day. You were always the macho, gung-ho half of the Professionals duo, the tough guy who fell for unsuitable women - a self-destructive junkie; a gangster's wife; a double agent - and got his heart broken, whilst still maintaining that stiff upper (usually curled in contempt) lip. You acted first and thought later, to the barely restrained fury of George Cowley (the lovely Gordon Jackson). Martin Shaw's Doyle was always more circumspect, thoughtful, by the book and, to my mind slightly dorkish with his silly hairdo. To be fair he's improved with age and I loved him in George Gently, though not as much as I loved Lee Ingleby. But that's by-the-by. Bodie was everything I, a mere strip of a schoolgirl, thought was exciting in a man. Roughty-toughty but unashamed to cry.
It's funny the things that stick with you...I always remember an episode of The Profesionals that involved drugs and Bodie had become close to a junkie girl. At the end the dynamic duo had to break into her flat (to save her or whatever) but sadly found that she had overdosed and died. Before she succumbed she had been able to write on her bed headboard (and I quote) 'Dear God, I'm only little....' I don't recall her being especially petite but perhaps I watched the episode in a seething state of jealousy and teenage hormones because she got to snog Bodie. She clearly didn't deserve him (unlike me).

One more memory of The Professionals (and I'm sniggering now thinking about it, as I do every time it comes into my head). When I was at my all-girls convent in Dublin being taught by the Sisters of Charity we were on the whole a fairly innocent lot - some might say naive, some might say 'a bit backward' - though I like to think I was maybe a bit less immature and a bit more sussy since I had been transplanted from my particularly malevolent Northern home town only a year earlier. The Professionals was a big hit amongst us girls and one of the popular break time activities was to make up scenarios whereby we were somehow related to the CI5 members and got involved in their derring-do. I suppose it would be called wishful thinking or more likely fantasising. We didn't actually run around with sticks pretending we were shooting people (we were 13, come on!)  - we mainly pretended that we were related to them and got involved with their work and 'Bodie said this' and 'Doyle said that'. A major part of it was that you had different names from your own; after all what's glamourous about Linda, Geraldine, Anita, Bernadette and Anne? (There was also Sabina, which is different I suppose but she didn't like it so naturally had a 'nom-de-guerre' too). Well, my friend Geraldine's story was that she was Bodie's niece and the name she'd chosen...I can hardly type this for tittering.....was Jodie. I immediately said 'Jodie? Jodie Bodie?' Geraldine got very flustered and said, 'no, no, he's my mum's brother' but the spell or whatever had been broken. By laughing at her I guess I made everyone think that what we had been getting a lot of fun out of was childish and pathetic. And so the 'Being-Part-Of-The-Professionals-Family' game ended with a whimper.
Surprisingly enough Geraldine was my best friend for a good few years. She was really bright but her mum was a very pushy parent from the North (Norn Ireland that is) and I think she had an adverse effect on Gez. Wonder what happened to her?

And my name in our fantasy life? Well, punk was coming and I was rather busy trying to be Debbie Harry. If pushed I would've been Velda Vomit, gangster's moll and nemesis of CI5...

Killing Bono!!!!

We saw our third free film of March this evening and I think it was the best. I really enjoyed 'Limitless' but for laugh-out-loud laughs Killing Bono beats it hands down. If you loved 'The Commitments' you'll probably really like this movie too.
We didn't realise that the book the film comes from is a true story (Big Man's favourite kind of film....when I told him, after watching 'Public Enemies' that Babyface Nelson died after John Dillinger in real life, rather than before him as in the film, Big Man said that I had 'totally ruined it' for him. Go figure.) and one that is set in the city where I grew up and almost in my era there too. The premise is that two sets of schoolboys start bands - one band has a pair of brothers in it, the other goes on to be U2. We all know what became of U2 but the story really concerns the brothers and that's where all the comedy comes from.
Although the film is ostensibly about the band there isn't a great deal of music (I didn't think so anyway) because it's mainly about the relationship between Ivan and Neil McCormick (I think Neil wrote the book 'I Was Bono's Doppelganger') played by Robert Sheehan and Ben Barnes, who does a pretty good Dublin accent imho. It also has Peter Serafinowicz in a very funny role and Pete Postlethwaite in his last film. If you get a chance please go and see it - a feel-good, very funny movie. And we saw it for free which always adds an extra star for me.

Incidentally (this is a bit of showing off here!), U2 may be every Irishman and woman's favourite musical sons now but when I saw them supporting The Clash at the Top Hat in Dun Laoghaire back in 1978, in a half-empty hall, they were treated with absolute contempt. I remember their current songs of the time were '11 O'Clock Tick-Tock' and 'I Will Follow' and there was certainly none of this messianic, sunglasses-wearing Bono carry on then. U2 were merely an annoyance before The Clash appeared.
I've just read on the 'net that thousands now claim to have been at that gig (probably U2 fans) but trust me....this ex-Dublin Punk was there!

Does that make me officially cool?! ;P

Monday, 28 March 2011

Whatever Happened to Wonder Woman?

I hope that nobody reads this post and hates me for it but I've got to get it off my did some women become such wimps?
I ask because today I read a letter in a Sunday magazine agony column. A woman wrote to say that her husband, whose job is in jeopardy following redundancies, has for the last nine months been working away from home during the week. The possibility is that this will continue for another six months or year. She has one 2 year old and is pregnant. She says that he likes to see his friends at the weekends when he comes home (I wonder why?), that they argue and 'he feels guilty when I bring up how lonely I am.....he does miss us'.
Am I a complete cow to think that she should maybe grow a pair; be thankful her husband has a job; and stop laying such a guilt trip on him when he comes home after a week working away? I guess I must be because the agony aunt starts by saying 'This could not have happened at a worse time - when you have young children you really do need your husband around'. Erm....what about suggesting that she concentrates on making their home a great place to be in when he comes home so that he won't want to go out with his pals; that she stops moaning and telling him how lonely she feels (because he isn't lonely in a strange town away from his family, is he?); that she cherishes her little child and looks forward to her new baby, and the time they'll all spend together in the future; that nothing lasts forever and for now SHE is the constant in her son's life and he needs her to stop drooping around?

I'm sorry but this lack of moral fibre really bugs me. Believe me, I know from personal experience that life can be tough when you're trying to cope on your own - I'm the daughter of a trawler skipper (three weeks in Iceland or Greenland or the Barents Sea, three days at home, repeat ad infinitum - the most perilous job of all) and the wife of a submariner who left for a six month tour of duty the day I brought Red home from hospital. In those days there were no emails, no phone calls...when boats went on 'sneakies' you could send two separate 40-word familygrams during the trip, that was all. My dad didn't see any of his kids being born, Big Man saw two out of three. These were tough men doing hard jobs and they needed their wives to match them in backbone and resilience. They needed to go to work knowing that someone was holding the fort at home. We had three children under three, Big Man was either under the sea or living in barracks in Plymouth whilst we lived where we live now, 140 miles away. Neither sides of the family within 200 miles and I worked full-time too. Hard but not as bad as it was for Babcia who did have her (admittedly crazy) mother nearby but also had the worry every waking moment of hearing on the news that a trawler was missing. Nowadays women marry soldiers and live in fear of the knock on the door but they keep going, they have to. Someone has to hold things together for when the men come home again. Isn't that what a partnership is?

Of course you could say that I and Babcia and all the Forces wives of today knew what we were getting ourselves into when we met and married these men. That's true - Big Man was a matelot when I met him and my dad was a decky learner fresh off the boat train when he came across Babcia. However 70 years ago thousands and thousands of women didn't intentionally marry servicemen but ended up with them anyway. Some were apart for years, each not knowing whether the other survived, bringing up children their husbands had never seen, working hard in factories, risking their own lives on airfields and army bases - keeping the Home Front going in other words. Strong, capable, resilient women who suffered the hard times because they knew their husbands were having a pretty cruddy time too, and because they hoped their sacrifices would bring better times. I think that's what some women today can't or don't want to understand. That if you can support each other and stand together, even though you're apart for a while, then you're paving the way for the good times to come. You have each other. And, maybe, a whole lot of self-respect.

Works for me.

P.S. Are strong, feisty females born or made? Discuss.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Good Walk Spoiled! Not Really...

Hasn't the weather been heavenly the last few days? So mild, warm even. It's just as well as I have started my Census Job....ta daa!!! It means the walking the streets is really pleasant and not at all onerous. I wasn't meant to start until this Monday coming but was asked if I could do some Early Collecting in a different area to the one I'd applied for so I impetuously said that I would. Not that I regret it really - I like to get things under way. The new area is very student-heavy and I was worried that I might encounter rebellion or impudence or even contempt but I was so wrong. My job currently entails visiting properties to find out whether the census form has been delivered to the property and also if the household will be completing the form. I'm not sure how these properties were flagged, or why - possibly because they're all registered with the council as HMOs maybe. Anyway, the students so far have been polite, sweet and well-mannered - a real credit to their parents and themselves. It was funny to hear the way the boys would come hurtling down the stairs to answer the door, leaping down the last few and arriving breathless - that's just exactly how Mr Charming (who is home for a month tomorrow - YAY!!!!!!!! There'll be a whole lotta baking going on when I get home from the Dragon's Den tomorrow!) bounds around. When he's not sleeping 'til 3pm.

Last night my Co-ordinator gave me a rush job that entailed checking on properties that had their census forms returned as undeliverable by the Royal Mail. When I saw that a block of flats was on my list I was a bit worried but I discovered when I got there that it was old university halls of residence boarded up awaiting demolition so I didn't need to do anything. It was pretty dark by the time I'd checked all of the properties on my list  - several were blocks that had the forms for #13 returned which shows superstition is alive and well in the 21st century. Not that I'd want to live at number 13 myself...
Big Man is on leave so volunteered to drive me round my route and I was pleased that I'd agreed by the time I'd finished. It was dark and almost deserted and all I could think of was the census taker whose liver Hannibal the Cannibal ate with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.......eeeeek!!!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Date Night #2

It was a toss-up tonight between describing our latest date night and my work this week. I've decided to leave the work post until Friday.

The free movie this evening was called Limitless and starred Bradley Cooper (I think he's quite the heart-throb is some quarters but I'd never seen him before), Abbie Cornish (another new one on me) and Robert DeNiro who is looking more and more like my dad the older they both get. Goodfellas is just about my favourite film of all time so anything that stars Mr D is fine by me.

The film's described as a paranoia-fuelled action thriller. It starts almost in a comical way - the hero (or perhaps anti-hero) is a loser whose girlfriend dumps him and who is unable to start the book that he has been given an advance to write. However it gets darker as it goes on and there is an uneasy ending that you might not really agree with. The idea is an interesting one and you come out of the cinema wondering whether you would want to try the pill Eddie takes, were it available. There was one part in Limitless when I wondered what the point of the particular story-strand was, but mulling it over later I think I see why it was put in. It is the kind of film that you'll think about afterwards. The characters were fairly well-drawn - Eddie is a consistently weak man who gets an enormous stroke of luck and runs with it but doesn't really question the ethics of what he does; Lindy, Eddie's girlfriend, is his conscience but ultimately shows herself to be corruptible (don't think that's too strong a word); but Robert De Niro's captain of industry disappointingly ends up rehashing the retired Jimmy Conway. Still, he tries his best with a limited part and in all honesty it's totally Bradley Cooper's film. 
Having said all that, I did leave the cinema saying 'I loved that film'. It's escapist and it has some holes in it but if you want a good date movie you could do worse than Limitless. BTW, our own Anna Friel is in a small role, almost unrecognisable and with a strange Estuary/NYC hybrid accent.

Strange as it may sound I think Big Man and I enjoyed the movie more because we weren't able to sit together. The showing was in a smaller screen than normal and because we didn't get there 'til 6:15 for the 6:30 start there were no 'two-at-the-end' seats left. Big Man likes to be on the aisle on account of his bad knee - it needs to be stretched out when he's sitting down - so he sat in a single disabled seat (a PREMIERE one, no less!) whilst I sat a few rows further forward in an aisle seat. Win-win situation - Big Man didn't have me commentating on everything (yeah, yeah, I know I'm a pain in the ass patron but don't hate me for it); gasping and hiding my face at scary bits; and I wasn't squished up next to him, feeling constricted and resentful.
There's more than one reason I call him Big Man y'know.......

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

....And In News From The Dragon's Den...

Quick post to thank everyone for your words of wisdom regarding Malicia. Having simmered about it all weekend and bent Big Man's ear something chronic I decided that I would confront her. You know, a life lived in fear and all that..
We had a full and frank discussion that lasted almost an hour and ended up involving the RGN from the other day and the Deputy Manager Admin, who was a real support. Things have settled down again...for now. Malicia is still full of crap (AND she doesn't know what expedient means!); I still won't trust the RGN as far as I can throw her; I'm still outta there as soon as our debts are gone.
And whether she's aware of it or not, Malicia's the one whose card's been marked by HO, not me...

As the great Brendan Behan said 'a job is like death without the dignity'

Friday, 18 March 2011

How Do You Overcome A Toxic Boss?

No, it's not a joke in need of a punchline - it's a serious question. What do you do when you work for somebody who is erratic, unpredictable, a micro-managing, nit-picking rule-maker and in many ways totally deluded? When even your husband, not the world's most perceptive person (possibly even borderline Asperger's!), says that he can see you become less confident and losing your self-esteem?

I work in a care environment but am not a health or care professional (that's important). The establishment I work in was closed previously by Social Services but has been totally refurbished and has a complete new staff. It has been 'open for business' since September last year but so far, primarily as a result of the previous difficulties, has only two residents. I work 16 hours a week and am supposed to have a colleague to mirror me, making one full-time post but as we are under-subscribed I am on my own for now.

I know I'm creative - I've got a degree in Fine Art; I thought I was confident (heck, I've taught teenage boys - you can't be a shrinking violet and do that); I have a lot of good ideas that I'm dying to put out there; people usually like me..I know they do. I think I can be really funny and I make people laugh. Maybe my problem is I want to be liked, but I can't believe, underneath it all, that it's me who has the problem.
This week, because the manager....let's call her Malicia...hadn't stressed to the staff the importance of taking holiday by the end of March, (bearing in mind that we've been employed for six months now) there has been only me, a Romanian RGN and Malicia (who is an RGN too) at work to care for two old ladies, one of whom is non-ambulant. Malicia normally stays in her office when we're at our full complement but this week she's had to muck in. Today, a couple of hours into my shift, I saw Malicia ask the other RGN if she could have a word with her and took her off somewhere - my antennae went up. Next thing she calls me to her office where the other RGN is already waiting. Proceeded to say that she wanted to talk about things that had happened in the last hour. I put on my 'quizzical but interested' face, obviously still oblivious to the next remark. Which was that I was involving myself in medical things not of my concern and that I had said something to a resident that could bring 'Safeguarding' down on us.

Gobsmacked, followed by incredulity, followed by indignation.

Although I am trained in Manual Handling my job doesn't, in theory, necessitate it. Because all the care staff were on holidayor off duty I was in the position where I had to help the RGN with the hoist etc and yesterday, whilst hoisting her into bed one resident had asked us four times to take her socks off before she had her sleep. Today she asked us again several times and I said, laughingly 'You just tell me now, XXXX, who's forcing these socks on your feet anyway?!' The way you do with a child, or at least I used to with Red, Mr Charming and Carb Addict anyway, just acting silly. She laughed, I laughed and I thought nothing of it. That was the first thing I did wrong, apparently. This lady who, bless her, can't remember what she had for lunch an hour after she's eaten it, might tell her daughter when she visits tomorrow that she had been forced to wear socks. Long lecture followed. Then, even worse apparently, I had asked the RGN what would happen if our other resident suddenly got into bad pain, when she is given Paracetamol every four hours as a matter of course. What do you give then??    I asked, I suppose, because I am basically nosy although I have to say that I wasn't really listening to the answer. Second mistake. I shouldn't be querying what they, professional nursing staff were doing because I am not a member of the caring staff. Just good enough to do the lifting and handling when everyone else is off, even though it's not my job
Well, I told her that I asked because I was nosy but that I didn't particularly care what tablets they were giving out and I'd obviously offended her for which I apologise. Whilst wanting to kill her stone dead. And do you know how all this came about??
My face was red when I started because I'd gone from the rain outside to a superheated atmosphere, and stayed red (I have complained to all and sundry about the heat of the place). Malicia pulled the RGN aside and asked if I was angry or upset and the RGN, who earlier I had been talking to about her wish to have babies; how she loved children and so on; who I had made laugh when I sang 'Goodnight Sweetheart' to the lady as we left her in bed, had told all this to Malicia. WTF!!!! Maybe I'm wrong but if you're a manager and you think (wrongly) that one of your staff members has a problem, don't you ask them? Why would you ask someone else? And you know something else? If I was an RGN and I thought someone was out of line in what they said I think I'd tell them myself. She later told me 'I feel a lot better after that conversation' (with me and Malicia). Well isn't that great, at least one of us did. 

Since we started in September seven staff members have left including the Deputy Manager RGN who wasn't allowed to do her job, and the chef - both of whom wrote and told the higher-ups exactly why they were leaving; whilst Malicia was on holiday the Deputy Manager Admin called in Head Office because of the atmosphere, the staff turnover and so on, and there was a big meeting with the remaining staff and a HO person - we all wrote statements and some people stated that they had been bullied by Malicia, which I thought would be pretty serious. What happened? Bugger all. I really like my colleagues (apart from the RGN from today who I now detest but will never have an inkling), and need the job to get rid of our debts, but the day we pay the last penny off I'm outta there. 

Massive post, massive rant I know but....any thoughts gals? 

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Wearing Of The Green

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

May you live as long as you want
And never want as long as you live!!

Happy St Patrick's Day!!

Date Night. No, Wait....Make That Afternoon

This afternoon Big Man and I went on one of our free movie screenings and today's was not at all like our usual fare. Not that there is a 'usual' for us - a free film is a free film after all, whatever the subject matter. I managed, through Facebook, to get a pair of tickets for our local arthouse cinema, showing at 4.00 this afternoon. Not a particularly popular time of day but our working hours are pretty flexible so we were able to go and I'm really pleased we did.

The film is called 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams' and is that rare creature, a Werner Herzog film in 3D. I'm not mad about 3D to be honest...when something flies towards me I tend to react the same way as neanderthal woman did the first time she saw fire. But this is a truly beautiful and haunting film. If I say it's about a fairly recently discovered French underground cavern filled with cave art that's 32,000 years old it might not sound too appealing, but it really is. The art is incredible; horses, bison, mammoths, cave bears, leopard. Just wonderful. No less magical are the rock formations within the cave. We saw something similar at a grotto in the south of France a few years back but nowhere near as remarkable. Big Man tells me that the Blue John Mines here in the UK are even better but I'm inclined to think that's the Midlander in him talking!
The film's not perfect - they could have shortened it by maybe a third if there had been fewer talking heads, even though a couple of these are inadvertently comical (the man with the spear), and the music gets a bit over-shrieky in parts - but overall it's a real cinematic experience. Try to catch it at your local arthouse cinema (I have a feeling it will have a limited release!) or wait to watch it on the History Channel, which I think, produced it.

All that and home by 6.00!!


Monday, 14 March 2011

February SitRep

Well, I know we're nearly half way through March but, better late than never!

Again I am a happy bunny - we have brought our debts down by £1969.67 in February and I am feeling extremely proud of myself. We managed to pay a whopping £930 off of one of Big Man's credit cards, mainly by using what we would have paid on council tax (if it was April - January) and other bits of additional income (including just under £300 on mystery shopping). February was the first month where I was back on my full-time (to me) wages so I had half as much again. We paid off a house phone bill and a business one that we don't use any more and have now closed. The best news is that, since the start of the year we have reduced our debts by £3530.45. Isn't that great???!!!!

On the minus side we are now going to be laying out an extra £75 a month to pay off a £1500 fine from Companies House for late filing of our accounts. Although it's technically a business debt our business is hibernating for now and because we don't want to wind it up we have to pay this fine somehow. We are also paying out £100 a month to cover a personal guarantee from another business we had that failed. And will be paying for a very long time unless we win the Lotto. We have also had to up our electricity payment to £175 a month from £135 to pay off a big bill caused by EDF not reading our meter properly (and my not reading it myself, apparently). Oh dear, I'm making myself quite depressed now!! It looks almost unsurmountable. But it isn't.

I am expecting to be able to bring in quite a bit of additional income from the end of this month, through April and into May with my Census Collecting job and also the poll clerking I am doing on 5 May. My hope is to make £300 on eBay too in March. I am going to be a busy little bee!!!


Today has been very busy and it's only just ending!

I've baked Millionaire's Shortbread and finally mastered scones (use Trex, plain yogurt and a very hot oven in case you're wondering); made a delicious chicken stew using my homemade turkey stock as a base; photographed stuff for eBay and listed some of it, but not nearly enough seeing as I want to make £300 this month; washed and pegged the clothing out; carried on knitting for my Etsy store whilst watching the last episode of Being Human (Mitchell!!! Nooooooooo!!!!!) then, finally, stripped the chicken carcass for a pot pie and start of more stock. Phew!

Very frugal bloggers will think this obvious but I discovered how much more economical it is to buy a whole chicken and roast it rather than buy chicken breasts, which is what I have always done up to now. Before I started shopping at Lidl I used to pay around £6 for a pack of chicken breasts (I could've bought Value chicken but yuk. For £4 I bought a 2kg chicken and roasted it, used half for the stew and have shredded the other half and frozen it. I could've easily stretched it to three or even four meals I guess and I'll try to do so next time round. I have identified food as an area where I can save much more - I have given us a budget of £200 a month and do a weekly menu plan but was over in January then blew it big time in February. BTW, I'll finally post my February SitRep tomorrow, even though we're half-way through March - it's pretty good!

Despite all the domesticity of the day I didn't get everything done that I wanted to so tomorrow when I get home from work I'll have to finish some cupcakes for Carb Addict and his friends then drive them over to his weekday home. Cookie Dough Cupcakes....I'll let you know how they're received next time!!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Oh Plan B! Find Some Better Dancers!

Last night I went to the O2 with Red to see Plan B. After the fiasco with Babcia's coach and returning to work I didn't really feel like going but I'd had the tickets for ages so I forced myself. Also one of Red's pals was coming with me as she's been a fan for ages and I couldn't let her down.
We almost didn't make it onto the coach (and a psychologist might say this was subconscious self-sabotage, or subconscious identification with Babcia's experience, or as Red, my psychology student daughter said 'because you're crackers') because I left the coach tickets on the table. I realised I didn't have them before Big Man drove away and I sent him haring off in the car the two minutes away to the house. In the interim the driver told me I could get the ticket reprinted in the coach station if I knew the number. The number!! On my phone was the email confirmation and after showing it to the staff I got a new ticket printed and jumped on the coach. It pulled out as Big Man drove up, tooting the horn madly and waving the ticket. I just had time to give him the thumbs up as we drove off.

Plan B was excellent, fantastic really. The sound was great and we were pretty near the front. If you've heard of Plan B - Ben Drew as his mum calls him - you'll know he released a soul/rap album last year called 'The Defamation of Strickland Banks'. I suppose he thought it was a good idea, since he has a soul sound, to have some dancers on stage doing some....well, it's almost sacrilege to call what they were doing Northern Soul dancing but I think that's what it was meant to be.

Now you all know that I'm a transplanted Northerner of many years and back when I was growing up in my particularly malignant Northern city, Northern Soul was the only show in town. I appreciate that it's not to everybody's taste - Big Man can't stand it, Red loves it, I really, really love it - and it's not soul like, say, Aretha or James's a very specific era, a very specific sound and a VERY specific style of dancing. Read about it here if you're at all interested. And listen to this for some Northern Soul that isn't Soft Cell's version of Tainted Love...

Anyway, back to the dancers. God love 'em, I was mortified for them, especially the girls, most of whom looked like they'd watched a YouTube tutorial for a couple of minutes. There are lots of spins, flips and so on in Northern Soul dancing and one girl in particular kept on doing these wild spins and ending in the kind of pose that Bruce Forsyth used to do at the start of the Generation Game, a bit like Rodin's 'The Thinker'. It was shameful really, to think how much money must have been spent on putting the show on then spoiling it with such crummy dancers. Actually, there was one guy who was not bad - he looked old enough to have been at Wigan Casino back in the day - but they were really just kids. My uncle Al was a regular Casino-goer in the '70s (I was a bit too young and Babcia way too paranoid for me to have gone) and he would have laughed his socks off if he'd seen last night's performance. Watch this for a little taste of Wigan Casino...fantastic moves.

So Mr Drew, Music - A+...Dancing - Epic Fail!

Oh, and I've decided that, since it's unlikely that Joe Strummer will ever be brought back to life, last night'll probably be the last gig I'll go to. Felt too small amongst the tall youngsters!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Granny Takes A Trip!

Hello again! I've been away for a little while whilst my lovely mum was here on holiday but I'm back now. It's so nice to have her to stay because I don't see her that often, me being in the beautiful South whilst she lives in the particularly malignant Northern city from whence we hail. We usually go on lots of trips, madly charity shopping, when she visits and this time was no different. A little more difficult now I don't have a car - I had to wait until Big Man came home from work at lunchtime before we could go anywhere further than walking distance - but we managed to have some nice days and the weather stayed good too. I always spend more money than I should when Babcia comes to visit and this time was no exception but I only got stuff that I think I can turn a good profit on. Babcia also brought some stock for our Etsy shop. It's not quite up and running yet but it should be soon. 

We went to the local car boot sale on Sunday, arriving quite late really, not til about 11:00. Some stall holders had already left but that didn't stop us getting some great bargains, the best one of which was a canopy for an old coach-built Silver Cross pram. Babcia has been after one of these for ages because she has one of the prams that she takes my niece and nephew out in.

These prams are fierce expensive and so are the canopies, the vintage ones. Babcia bought hers at the car booty, unused, still in its box, for....(drum roll)....£5!!!! What a bargain. Sometimes people don't really know what they have when they're selling it, do they? The only problem was that Babcia was going to have to carry it on the coach all the way home. When Granny took her trip!

Big Man drove Babcia to the coach station at 8:10 for her 8:40 coach. At 8:45 the phone rang. Babcia had missed the coach! She changes at Birmingham but the coach carries on to Edinburgh. For some reason she had it in her head that the coach would say Birmingham on the front so when it said Edinburgh she didn't think it was hers. It waited around for a while after 8:40, obviously for her, and when she didn't get on it it went. She asked the staff if the coach to Birmingham was late and they said 'that's it, just left!' Major panic. Babcia nearly in tears on the phone. I had to belt down to the station because I couldn't leave her upset on her own. She got another coach three hours later and has, thankfully, made it in one piece. Who knows what was going on in her mind? She has made the identical journey at least 15 times with no trouble.

Babcia is 66. case you're wondering, Babcia is Polish for Granny.