Ten things I wish I could go back to Brighton for.

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Every year I go on a girls weekend with two fabulous friends. Let’s call them Fabulous Friend One and Fabulous Friend Two. We started this tradition five years and have only missed one trip (due to small twin boys hanging off my body). We’ve been to the west coast of Ireland (miraculously sunny), where I battled the perils of morning sickness while playing vast amounts of Uno; Manchester with all its lovely shops, restaurants and bars; Paris, where we actually got mistaken for frenchies; Center Parcs for archery, flumes and more Uno; and finally Brighton.

Shamefully I’ve never been to Brighton, even though I used to live in South London and could have gotten there very easily. This weekend though, I discovered Brighton is a great place to visit. Some of the best shops in the U.K, a great selection of restaurants (just don’t mention the last one we visited to Fabulous Friend Two as she may have got food poisoning from it), and a brilliant pier with loads of fun things to do on it. Will I be going back? Oh yes! A combination of great company and a brilliant town led to a great weekend. So here are the ten things I wish I could go back to Brighton for:

1. Another/better caricature. For years, I’ve wandered past artists drawing caricatures on the street and thought ‘I want one of those’. This weekend I was filled with such a free spirit (and cash from husband’s casino win) that I decided to get one. Fabulous friend one and fabulous friend two were also dragged into my artistic fantasy. The three of us sat in a row on Brighton pier, imagining what wonders our Van Gogh would present us with. When he finally turned his pad round to show us the caricature of the three of us, I was on the edge of my seat. And what did he present us with? Well it was a drawing of three girls but I’m just not sure who they were. A couple of them seemed to have perms. Was it us? When we were out of earshot of our ‘artist’ I discovered it wasn’t just me. Fabulous friend one and fabulous friend two were bloody mystified too.

2. Arancini balls. The most delicious balls this side of the Alps. My first and possibly best meal in Brighton.

3. The immense self confidence of the locals. When I say locals, I mean sea gulls. One of the cockiest of Brighton’s sea-gulls, swooped down on Fabulous Friend Two’s ice cream and made off with the flake and half the ice cream. And we didn’t even get a photo. Next time though…

4. Cocktails. Brighton had a lot of great cocktails. The high point was a French Martini in a mexican restaurant. The low point was a Baileys inspired cocktail which cost a fortune and was so bad, I couldn’t finish it.

5. Our hotel. The Artists Residence hotel is one of the best hotel’s in Brighton and one of the best priced. The rooms were fantastic, the breakfasts were actually tasty (green and blacks hot chocolate was on the menu too) and there was a ping pong table in the basement. What more could you ask for? To think we could have spent more and ended up in a Travelodge!!!

6. Walking along the seafront . Okay the weather was miraculously good and I was in the best company but regardless of that, you just can’t beat a walk by the sea. Fabulous friend two even got to eye up some men in Lycra (cyclists I’m told).

7. Laughing with the girls. I’ve known Fabulous friend one for thirty two years and Fabulous friend two for twenty years. That all adds up to a lot of drunken giggling. Not sure Fabulous friend one was laughing when I inadvertently tried to molest her in my sleep but I’m sure she’ll get over the trauma eventually.

8. Another fake tattoo. Given that it’s more painful to have a tattoo removed than to have it put on there in the first place, I think we can all agree they are a fairly big commitment. That’s why I loved my fake tattoo I got in Brighton. It looks great and it was completely pain free. Some woman did have to get very up close and personal to my ear area (could she see any old crusty earwax in there!?!) but it was totally worth it. There was also the added bonus of talking to the crazy guy who owned the place. Apart from suggesting strange Harry Potter tattoos (which I declined very politely), we also got to hear his feelings on helping Africa. Give wheat not ipads, seemed to be the gist of it.

9. Watching warring couples. When men and women want to fall out, they go to Brighton. or so it seemed to us this weekend. They were everywhere. On the streets, in restaurants. And not just little tiffs either. There was storming out of rooms, shouting in the street, all fantastic entertainment. I know that you Bohemian types will say ’embrace love not war’. But couples fighting is actually a lot more fun to watch than couples snogging. And there’s a lot less saliva involved, unless people start spitting of course. In Brighton’s defence, we did see one couple win the world record for longest embrace in the history of mankind. We tried not to stare but…

10. Shopping. Brighton has it all, and as someone who loves to shop, I should know. Need a designer gown you can’t afford? Brighton has it. Need a pencil sharpener in the shape of a dog’s bottom? No problem. Like Fabulous friend two, you need a gold necklace in the shape of a t-rex? It’s right there. Need a birthday cake in the shape of Dobby the house elf lying under the sorting hat? I can tell you where to get it. I’d like to say I resisted, but I didn’t. And so another year goes by, where I spend my birthday money, a month before my birthday. Oh well…

So, the next time you’re wondering where to go for a couple of days with your besties, then remember Brighton. It won’t disappoint.

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Ten things I wish I could say at book club

Ten things I wish I could say at book club

You may have noticed by now that I like a good book. I really believe reading makes you a better person. I know that I’ve allowed certain non-readers into my acquaintance, but I’m hoping that, just by brushing up against them when they’re least expecting it, I’ll somehow pass on my love for all things literature.

If you’re a woman of a certain age and you like to read books then inevitably, you will have to ask yourself a very, very important question. Should I join a book club? The answer will generally be yes but bear in mind the following ten thoughts, before committing to the alcohol fuelled institution, that is the book club.

Whenever I finally give up all pretensions of being a polite person, these are the things I will say at book club:

1. Your book choice is really, really boring. Instead of saying something polite like, didn’t the author do a really good job of getting to grips with the semi-colon, I’d like to be able to say ‘Hey you! That book you forced us to read last month, was bloody awful. Just because I have a general liking for books doesn’t mean I want to read drivel like that. Hang your head in shame!’

2. Your ideas are crazy and no I didn’t think that little girl in the first chapter was actually a ghost/demon/symbol of capitalism oppression. She was just a nice little girl, get over it!

3. No you shouldn’t have that third glass of wine. You were talking rubbish after the first glass so a third one isn’t going to help.

4. We were talking about To Kill a Mockingbird Bird and now you’ve shifted the conversation to a diatribe on Lord of the Rings. That’s so not helpful OR interesting. Would it kill you to stick to the book we’ve spent the last month reading?

5. You didn’t like the book I spent weeks choosing? Let’s take this outside.

6. You didn’t have time to read the book? You had a whole f***ing month. That’s about ten pages a day. If you can’t read ten pages a day then don’t join a f***ing book club.

7. No, we don’t want to read any erotica. I don’t want to be stuck sitting next to the old guy in the navy cords, who’s getting a stiffy.

8. So this book reminds you off a time when you spent six months travelling round South East Asia? That’s got nothing to do with the book has it? You basically just like the sound of your own voice, don’t you? Get a Thai bride if you want someone to sit and listen to your boring stories.

9. I don’t like red wine. Can I have a vodka and Irn Bru instead?

10. Okay, you’re a hundred and fifty and you speak five different languages but can anybody else get a word in?

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Ten things I wish I could get a robot to do for me

Ten things I wish a robot would do for me

Everybody has something they hate doing round the house, to the point where they’ll put it off for weeks. Or forever. For some people, it’s ironing. You’ll know these folks by their obsessive attachment to their tumble dryers and fabric softener. For others, it’s gardening. You probably won’t notice them, because the weeds will have grown up above their front windows and they’ll have become an urban myth in your neighbourhood. Some people hate cooking. They can be found in the chiller aisle of the supermarket, looking at microwavable hamburgers. For me, faeces and animal related clean ups are a real drag, although there are also plenty of other things I can’t be bothered to do either. So what if the so called boffins finally got round to inventing some kind of useful robot and it could do all the things we don’t like doing for ourselves? What would that be like? What would your robot do for you? Here are the top ten things my robot (let’s call her Kim) would do for me, although if you give me another five minutes, I’m sure I could think of hundreds more.

1. Wiping small bottoms. Having four and a half year old twins, I feel like I’ve been wiping other people’s bottoms for a hundred years. There was a particularly memorable six month period when the two of them could poo up to five times a day. That was ten poo’s a day to deal with, without even having to think about my own. They’ve been out of nappies for a long time now, but unless I want to deal with HUGE skid marks in the pants, then it’s just better that I carry on wiping myself. Champagne corks will pop on the day when they finally assume responsibility for this themselves (or Kim arrives to do it for me). And of course, I’ll get my revenge one day. When I’m ninety and incapable of doing anything for myself, I shall make sure I get the squits and then lie back and enjoy the fall out!

2. Bathroom hair. Where does it all come from? Shouldn’t we all be bald, given how much hair seems to be shed in our bathroom? Kim, I desperately need you to come and deal with this because every time I clean the bathroom, the hair has reappeared by the next day.

3. Folding up fitted sheets. Let’s face it, no real human being can fold a fitted sheet. We all try and it just ends up being rolled into a ball and being hid at the back of the laundry cupboard. Please save me from fitted sheets Kim.

4. Disposing of slugs. Slugs are the most pointless AND the most disgusting creature known to mankind. Is there anything worse than a slippery, slimy slug? Just imagine if you stood on one with bare feet? Better to stand on a land mine, surely? But slugs love our house. Perhaps I should take it as a compliment but it’s still a tad upsetting. The slugs that visit our house seem to enjoy cat food and gravitate towards the bowls on the floor like they have some kind of homing beacon attached. I always find these slugs when the husband is AWOL. Trying to make them slide onto a piece of paper and rushing them out into the garden IS NOT FUN!! Kim wouldn’t mind doing this, as long as the slime didn’t short circuit her electrics.

5. Disposing of dead mice, birds, shrews. A similar theme to the above but a major problem so I think it’s worth having its own number. Our cats love us. They think we’re swell. The downside to this is they like to bring us presents. Sometimes alive, sometimes dead. Sometimes with heads, sometimes without heads. Husband refuses to deal with live birds so that’s my job. We share the rest. If only Kim was here and then she could do it all.

6. Separate my jigsaw pieces. Now I’m drifting around in my mid thirties and have the poo people to look after, I don’t tend to spend every evening at clubs or fancy social gatherings where I could pretend to like networking. So instead I stay home and allow my brain to turn to mush while I watch TV. Occasionally I will wrench myself away from the TV and do a jigsaw. It might not be cool to say but jigsaws are well fun. Of course, having a mild touch of OCD, I have to make sure I do all the straight pieces first. But it’s a real pain, looking through the box (and getting a bloody sore neck at the same time) looking for those straight pieces. If Kim was here, she could sit beside me and pull out the straight pieces in a flash. I might get her to do the sky too…

7. Clean up the cat’s ‘incidents’. Sometimes I come down stairs in the morning to find a pile of ‘something’ on the floor. The ‘something’ is so mushy and gross, that I can’t tell if it’s vomit or poo. When you throw a piece of kitchen roll over the ‘incident’ and then try and wipe/pick it up, it will inevitably seep through the kitchen roll. This is definitely a job for Kim.

8. Read the bedtime story. Yes I know it’s important to read to your kids, and yes I love books, but no I do not love Thomas the Tank Engine or the Mister Men or most of the other kid’s books which are clearly lacking in any kind of decent plot. When they’re of an age, where I can read them Roald Dahl or Harry Potter then life will be rosy again but please Kim, come and read this drivel about a runaway train.

9. Dealing with little people tantrums. Why is it that the smaller the person, the bigger the tantrum? And how do they time them so well? Middle of the supermarket, middle of a funeral, anytime you are about to enjoy a particularly tasty meal. They know. The little people are as cunning as it gets. So, if the boffins could just send me Kim, then she could deal with the tantrums. Particularly those ones at bedtime when you’re simultaneously trying to put pyjamas on, brush teeth, and cook something suitably magnificent for Husband returning from work.

10. Updating social media. You may have noticed from previous posts that I’m a bit of a Luddite. I was a girl born to live in the past. Apart from the lack of decent toilets and nice, clean hospitals and TV, it would be great. The particular area of life I would like to reverse by about fifty years, is the publishing industry. Self publishing, kindles, celebrity authors, they all kind of make me want to vomit. Writers or wannabe writers have a pretty hard life these days. You are supposed to write and market and promote and be sociable and all sorts. When everybody knows that writers, are by their nature, anti social. So when I read, that if I want to be a writer that I have to get myself ‘out there’ on social media, it makes me want to flop onto my fainting couch. I don’t want to make people like me on Twitter or Pinterest or Facebook. I don’t want to have to seduce other bloggers into reading my blog. I just want to sit at home and read/watch TV/build jigsaws. Please don’t force me to make people like me. Kim would do a great job of this. She doesn’t care when people don’t retweet her humorous anecdotes.

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Ten things I wish were calorie free.

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Let’s face it. Ten things is really not going to be enough. One hundred things is probably going to be closer to the mark. Just think of all the cheeses in the world. Or all the chocolates. Or all the different things you can throw in a deep fat fryer (particularly if like me, you’re Scottish). How on earth will I ever narrow all my little addictions down to such a small number? I don’t know how I’ll do it but I’ll be brave. For you guys.

1. Deep fried pizza. A delightful Scottish delicacy which you get in chip shops north of the border. It doesn’t particularly taste like normal pizza but it does taste GOOD! This should be topped with a lovely Scottish condiment called chippy sauce. Really, there are no words. If I hadn’t moved to England, I would be the size of a house from eating these things.

2. Chocolate anything. Of course! What nincompoop wouldn’t have this on their list. White chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate orange, mint chocolate, chocolate inside things, things inside chocolate. I could go on but I’m beginning to drool.

3. Irn-bru. A delightfully vibrant, fizzy drink from Scotland. They say it’s made from girders but sometimes I wonder if they are having us on. There is a diet equivalent to this elixir but obviously it’s not as good. Irn-bru is great as a mixer with Vodka but also a great hangover cure for the morning after.

4. Baked Camembert. Melted, gooey. Perfection.

5. Chicken roast dinner. Let’s talk stuffing and roasted veg and plenty of gravy! Let’s talk two different types of potatoes. You even get to have a wee nap afterwards.

6. Crisp sandwiches. I know this may repulse some people but I don’t care, they’re that good. The bread must be white, the butter must be thickly spread and the crisps must be ready salted.

7. Butteries. A Scottish breakfast miracle. Kind of like a croissanty type roll but lots better. You can literally feel your arteries closing up as you eat these.

8. Wine. Because it makes you feel so much prettier.

9. Coffee cake. Hate coffee, love coffee cake. Really all kinds of cake should be commemorated here. And yes Battenburg that means you!

10. Bacon sandwiches. Who doesn’t love bacon? I’m sure even those hard core vegans who worship at the alter of the chick pea, still secretly lust after a bit of bacon.

And now I’m at an end and I haven’t even had a chance to mention crusty white bread or Austrian smoked cheese or prawn crackers or onion bhajis. Oh dear.

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Ten things I wish I’d written

Ten things I wish I'd written
When people tell me they never read books, I tend to get a very confused look on my face. Having read thousands of good books in my life, I just can’t understand why some people are withholding this pleasure from themselves. On the whole, I tend to try and ignore these comments as otherwise I might be rude and start throwing things and then the book haters would just say ‘Well if that’s what happens when you read too many books….’

As well as reading books, I also like to try and write them. Unfortunately I have discovered that writing a good book is actually a tad harder than reading one. Many an hour has been spent slaving over the laptop, only to return the following day to discover everything I’ve written is utter drivel. So this post is all about the writing I would love to have laid claim to…but can’t.

1. A Gathering Light – Jennifer Donnelly. This is a beautiful book about an American girl at the beginning of the twentieth century. She is struggling to put herself first and follow her dream of moving to New York to become a writer. This excerpt is a description of the guests at the hotel she works at.

“They leave things behind sometimes, the guests. A crumpled handkerchief. A pearl button that fell off a dress and rolled under a bed. And sometimes they leave other sorts of things. Things you can’t see. A sigh trapped in a corner. Memories tangled in the curtains. A sob fluttering against the windowpane like a bird that flew in and can’t get back out. I can feel these things. They dart and crouch and whisper.”

I love the image of the memories tangled in the curtains, as if they’re a moth trying to escape.

2. Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This man could do no wrong. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read of his so I could have chosen a thousand quotes. This one is particularly stunning though.

“He was healthier than the rest of us, but when you listened with a stethoscope, you could hear the tears bubbling inside his heart.”

3. Talking Heads – Alan Bennett. A British institution. The man writes better characters than almost anybody else on the planet. If I could write like anybody then perhaps it would have to be this great man.

“My mother knew everybody in this street. She could reel off the occupants of every single house. Everybody could, once upon a time. Now, they come and they go. That’s why these tragedies happen. Nobody watching. If they knew they were being watched they might behave. I’d talk to next door’s about it only there hasn’t been any contact since the business over the dustbins. And this other side’s Asians so they won’t know what’s normal and what isn’t. Though I’ve a feeling he’s been educated and their kiddies are always beautifully turned out. I just wish they’d do something about their privet.

4. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters – Julian Barnes. Occasionally Barnes can be a little too clever for me but he does write some beautiful, funny and wonderfully gross things so I’ll let him away with it. This particular book is a collection of short stories.

“‘I love you.’ For a start, we’d better put those words on a high shelf; in a square box behind glass which we have to break with our elbow; in the bank. We shouldn’t leave them lying around the house like a tube of vitamin C. If the words come too easily to hand, we’ll use them without thought; we won’t be able to resist. Oh, we say we won’t, but we will. We’ll get drunk, or lonely, or likeliest of all – plain damn hopeful, and there are the words gone, used up, grubbied.”

Why the tube of vitamin C, my writer self wonders?

5. What a Carve Up – Jonathan Coe. Back in the day, when I went to a local book club and it was FINALLY my turn to choose a book, I chose this one. This was what I wanted people to read. Although anything else by Coe would be great too. The book is about society changing for the worse but it’s carefully wrapped up in a funny tale with great characters, so I’d recommend it to anyone. This passage is from the perspective of a banker.

“Watching his foreign exchange dealers as they stared feverishly at their flickering screens, Thomas came as close as he would ever come to feeling paternal love. They were the sons he had never had. This was during the happiest time of his life, the early to mid 1980s, when Mrs Thatcher had transformed the image of the City and turned the currency speculators into national heroes by describing them as ‘wealth creators’, alchemists who could conjure unimaginable fortunes out of thin air. The fact that these fortunes went straight into their own pockets, or those of their employers, was quietly overlooked. The nation, for a brief, heady period, was in awe of them.”

6. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres. One of the best books in the world ever. One of the worst film adaptations. I’ll never understand why de Bernieres signed off on that terrible film, but the fella sure can right. I don’t think many books could turn you against war like this one can.

“They gave us nine thousand untrained reservists to bring us up to strength, and two hundred officers with no experience, plus some old retired officers who have forgotten their tactics and who do not understand the working of their weapons. These old warhorses huff their way up the slopes and die the same as anyone, coughing to death, face down in the mud, red bubbles frothing at their lips. The Greeks are fanatical but cool, wild yet full of purpose. They take the Golico, Monastry Hill, and Mt Scialesit, but we stop them before they invest Tepelini. The Duce comes to visit us and receives the acclaim that has been demanded of us. I sit with Francisco and do not come out to cheer him. An offensive is begun which has the express purpose of forming a spectacle for our Duce, who stands at Komarit and preens himself whilst he watches his soldiers being sent, wave by wave, towards certain death.”

The image of Mussolini preening himself is just right.

7. Adrian Mole: The Prostate Years – Sue Townsend. Townsend may never have won the Booker prize or other similarly boring prizes, but she sure knew how to make people laugh. And where would we be without that? In her last AM book, Adrian describes his wife Daisy.

“As she bent over to light a cigarette, I couldn’t help but notice that she now has three chins. I have also noticed recently that she has tampered with our ‘speak your weight’ bathroom scales, so they no longer speak…Even my friend Nigel, who is blind but can see shapes, said recently, ‘By Christ, Daisy’s piling on the pounds. She came to see me the other day and I thought it was my garden shed on the move.'”

8. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole. Published after Toole’s death, this book should be better known. So hey, read it. But hopefully don’t think you have to die to get published.

“Patrolman Mancuso enjoyed riding the motorcycle up St. Charles Avenue. At the precinct he had borrowed a large and loud one that was all chromium and baby blue, and at the touch of a switch it could become a pinball machine of flashing, winking, blinking red and white lights. The siren, a cacophany of twelve crazed bobcats, was enough to make suspicious characters within a half-mile radius defecate in panic and rush for cover. Patrolman Mancusco’s love for the motorcycle was platonically intense.”

I like a man who knows when to use the word defecate.

9. Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson. I love Bill Bryson, but I’m going to semi controversial now and say I really do prefer his earlier books. Sorry Bill. It’s not just you though, I feel the same way about Stephen King too. Sorry Stephen. This excerpt describes a trip he made to Paris as a young man.

“You would go into a bakery and be greeted by some vast slug-like creature with a look that told you you would never be friends. In halting french you would ask for a small loaf of bread. The woman would give you a long, cold stare and then put a dead beaver on the counter. ‘No, no,’ you would say, hands aflutter, ‘not a dead beaver. A loaf of bread.’ The slug like creature would stare at you in patent disbelief, then turn to the other customers and address them in French at much too high a speed for you to follow, but the drift of which clearly was that this person here, this American tourist, had come in and asked for a dead beaver and she had given him a dead beaver and now he was saying that he didn’t want a dead beaver at all, he wanted a loaf of bread. The other customers would look at you as if you had tried to fart in their handbags, and you would have no choice but to slink away and console yourself with the thought that in another four days you would be in Brussels and probably able to eat again.”

Phew, that was a long quote, but bloody worth it, I say.

10. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen. For me, a list like this, couldn’t exist without Jane Austen. The woman knew how to write good characters and a darn good love story. For all those people out there, who can’t be bothered to get used to the language, I say pffttt! This excerpt is when Mrs Bennet is discussing her eldest daughter’s disappointment in love.

“Well, my comfort is, I am sure Jane will die of a broken heart, and then he will be sorry for what he has done.”

Mrs Bennet at her finest.

So, if any of these quotations have had you chuckling, wondering or even a tad confused, why don’t you go out and buy the books. If you really must, you could also download them onto your electronic reading devices, but if you do do this, don’t tell me.

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A Letter To The Daughter I May Never Have

amanda trusty says

My dearest daughter,

I’m writing this to you at age 27, at which point I still don’t know how to change a diaper.

And I have to tell you right away, I live in a world where planes crash unexpectedly, and love doesn’t always win, and I eat pesticides for breakfast. My neighbors fight when they’re drunk and my friends have cancer and twelve-year-old students sell pot out of their lockers at school. I’m sorry darling, but this world is no place for a child.

I’m looking at a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table that your potential daddy bought me three days ago and they’re wilted because I forgot to change the water. The sink is dirty and the recycling bin smells like sour milk and Coca-Cola. My home is no place for a child to grow.

But goodness it would be so gorgeous to meet you…

View original post 2,769 more words

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Ten things I wish I could get rid of (part one)

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We all have one of these lists. No matter how much yoga you do and how much inner peace you think you’ve obtained, there will always be things that will get you ranting and raving. If you read the Daily Mail, you could probably fill a whole shelf worth of books on the things that get your goat.

If you’re vaguely observant, you’ll have noticed that the title of this blog ends with (part one). This is because there are a LOT of things that I would like to banish from planet earth. I can guarantee that another post like this one, will follow shortly.

I’d like to say this list will be full of things like war and hunger, and aged male TV presenters being paired up with younger, blonder females, but I feel I ought to stick within the realms of possibility. I’m sure many of you will disagree with at least some of the items on this list, but I guess you’ll see the error of your ways eventually.

1. Chuggers! Also known as Charity Muggers. These are people who loiter on our high streets, or appear at our doors, when we’re least expecting it. Yes, they’re collecting for charity but as most of them are working on commission and part of your donation will have to go towards paying that commission, I’m not exactly feeling charitable towards them. You should be able to tell them apart from actual lovely, volunteer type people by that vaguely bored expression, they all wear. When they talk, it sounds like they’re reading from a script they were given ten minutes previously. Chuggers make it to the top of my list, because a particularly bored looking, male example, rang my door bell and hammered on my door two nights ago. My children were asleep upstairs and I was eating dinner. When I mentioned the dinner eating activity to this man (pizza, seeing as how you ask), he just kept on talking. I eventually got rid of him but not before the temperature of my pizza had plummeted several degrees.

2. Fireworks! Never a popular thing to admit, but yes, I do hate fireworks. Standing out in the cold and getting a crick in my neck from staring up at the sky, is not my idea of fun.

3. Hen nights/weekends! When exactly did hen nights become hen weekends or hen ‘four days in Magaluf so the bridesmaids can pick up a nice case of genital warts before the wedding’? The quest to spend more and more money, and to travel further and further afield, seems to be a relatively modern phenomenon, and one which I’m at a complete loss to understand. I can proudly say I didn’t have a hen night. I am perfectly capable of finding the pub the other 364 days a year so I didn’t feel the need to make a special case for it, just because I was about to get hitched. I wouldn’t like to say all hen do’s are awful (as otherwise certain friends would no longer be friends) but on the whole, I’d have to say about 87% are a complete waste of time. I was reminded of my distaste for the tradition, when I was in Edinburgh last month. Walking through the city centre at three in the afternoon, a gathering of hens was spotted. Grandma hen, wearing a maxi dress and tan pop socks was straddling an ornamental cow outside the Caledonian Hotel. Bride hen was asking a complete stranger for money. How they were getting on by midnight, I didn’t dare to think.

4. Wildlife programmes! This is another one that people struggle to understand, but I really don’t like wildlife programmes. I have nothing against wildlife exactly (except for things that bite or sting) but some poor baby monkey or penguin, is always getting eaten, or killed, or left behind and that’s just not entertaining, is it? I know these things happen, I just don’t want to watch them happening.

5. Computer games! I don’t hate all computer games, but I’m basically bad at 97% of them. I will NOT persevere, so just fall at the first hurdle and then give up. Even Sonic the Hedgehog whipped my butt. The last computer game I ever felt comfortable with was ‘Fruit Machine’ for the Commodore 64 and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

6. Techonology! This closely follows on from the last point. The last time I had any kind of understanding of technology was 1988. Commodore 64 with that big tape recorder attached? Cool. Landline telephone? I could certainly dial one. Cassette tape Walkman? Yup. Anything else since then? Nope. Firstly, I’ve been late for every single technological breakthrough there’s been in the last twenty years. Didn’t get a mobile phone until 2000. Got my first CD player in 1997. First MP3 player in 2005. Secondly, I’m just rubbish at using them. I still prefer buying CD’s, because downloading music brings me out in a cold sweat. Downloading films? Never ever happened. Even getting this blog up and running had me diving for the vodka bottle. I don’t think it’s because I’m stupid. I have two degrees and a reasonably decent IQ, but I obviously just don’t have that technology button in my brain. If anybody else ever invented a time machine and then painstakingly explained to me how to use it, then I’d definitely head back to the 19th century and stay there.

7. People who say “I’m not racist but…”! First of all, you are racist. Second of all, you are racist.

8. Celebrity writers! People getting publishing deals because they are famous, rather than because they have a talent for writing, makes me want to throw large porcelain objects against a wall. Especially when so many good, non famous, writers can’t get published. Just think that if it weren’t for Bloomsbury, then J.K.Rowling may never have got a book deal. How many publishers rejected her work, because they wouldn’t take the time or effort to see how good she was? About a year ago I was listening to a celebrity talk about how he had been asked by a publisher to write a novel. He didn’t have an idea or anything, they just wanted to publish a novel with his name on it. For someone who loves books, this makes me very sad.

9. Commas! I’m rubbish at them. Why can’t I afford to pay some small, quiet person, to follow me along, inserting commas in my wake? Life would be so much more pleasant. (Laura, that one was for you.)

10. Long Goodbyes!

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