Monthly Archives: May 2009



I am a fundamentally lazy person.  I don’t know why this is but it’s always been the case.  It started when I was a child when I huffed because I didn’t want to clean the bathroom, do the drying up or clean out my rabbit, extended into senior school when I didn’t much feel like doing my homework or revising for my exams and continues to this day when I don’t want to do the hoovering, clean the bathroom or anything else that isn’t fun.  In short, and probably like most people, if it’s a chore it’s boring and I don’t want to do it.

That said, I think my main problem is that I lack discipline.  I am fully aware that if I spent an hour or 2 every morning doing various chores around the house it would always be pretty good and a lot less work in the long run.  My house is huge and really does require an element of discipline in order to keep on top of it.  So every so often I might put a little housework timetable together, couple it with a spreadsheet of what meals we’ll have on which days and feel utterly virtuous for the 2 days I follow it.  And then I’ll do something different like meet a friend for lunch or take my daughter swimming and the housework somehow falls by the wayside.  I don’t mean for it to happen but I’ll get up one morning and there will be a sea of tea cups, beer bottles (not mine) and dirty plates all over the house.  Now, it never takes long to sort it out but I do get that same huffy “I don’t WANT to do my homework” feeling about it.  At my age.

I’m lucky enough to have quite a few friends and they come and visit me regularly.  Somehow, though, just before they come I can always be found in a panic furiously cleaning, mopping the kitchen floor, scrubbing the bathroom, hoovering the stairs and whatever else I can think of because all of a sudden it all looks terrible.  How did that happen?  I only did all that 2 days ago and now it looks like I haven’t cleaned anything for 6 months!  And after they’ve arrived I will notice dust on the skirting boards.  What must they think of me?!  I can’t help it if I just don’t think to do things like that.  But I will make a mental note to add that to the chores list.  And I’ll put it down for Mondays too so at least it’ll get done during the virtuous phase of days 1 and 2 of timetable following.

The hardest thing for me is that all this just doesn’t come naturally when for other people it seems to.  There are people in the world who you know for certain will have spotless houses if you dropped in on them unannounced at any time.  I want that!  I’m so jealous!  I really have to work at it and usually fail quite spectacularly.  So if you turn up at chez Flaherty any time soon and I’m not following the housework timetable let me apologise in advance for the stairs not having been hoovered and the dust on the skirting boards.  I didn’t notice that it needed doing until you got here.

Cider is evil

Cider is evil

Cider, can’t touch the stuff.  At least not any more.  I rather spoilt cider for myself as a teenager when it was the drink of choice for the underaged girl about town.  We didn’t like beer, spirits were too strong and alcopops hadn’t been invented yet.  I’d seen how weirdly Thunderbird and Mad Dog 20/20 made people behave too plus they both tasted rubbish so cider it was and the cheaper the better.  Many the 3 litre bottle of Olde English passed our lips round at someone or other’s house.  How very classy.  Then as we got a little older and started to try our luck getting served in pubs we diversified a little.  Our mantra was no longer “the cheaper the better” but “the stronger the better”.  Many of the bad nights I experienced involved Diamond White, K and, my personal favourite, snakebite and black.

It was the sheer volume of bad nights that put me off cider over time.  Not bad nights in the sense that bad or upsetting things happened but bad with much throwing up or falling over.  Though thinking about it that is pretty upsetting.  There are myriad tales of my rampant misbehaviour when under the influence of the stuff, and to this day I can’t tell them apart.  Perhaps it could even go some way to explaining why I left the house looking so bloody awful with my frizzy hair and nasty glasses?  No, I think I might be deluding myself there.  There was one time when we went to the Duke of Buckingham in Old Portsmouth and drank lots and lots and lots of K.  The DofB was our Friday night haunt and we used to arrive very early before the bouncers went on the door as we lacked fake ID.  Because we’d got there so early we drank loads but it wasn’t until we left the pub and the cold outside air hit me that I realised what a state I was in.  I could barely walk and it must have taken hours to walk back to my friend’s house.  But not before I’d fallen over and scratched my Deirdre Barlow glasses.  Or run right into her front door while attempting to outrun the security light.  The bruises were quite special.

Now if I take a sip of cider it all comes flooding back.  It doesn’t have to be cheap nasty stuff either, even the expensive stuff my lovely husband insists on drinking on Sundays has the same effect on me.  Even the Sheppey’s cider that he reliably informs me makes your wee smell of apples.  It’s the cider twang, it makes me all unnecessary.  Strangely, snakeyB was never something I went off, despite the fact that it’s a pretty lethal concoction and banned from most pubs.  The lager and blackcurrant are sufficient to disguise the evil cider twang and so, even now, I can still drink it.  Here is a photo of me at my fairly recent wedding enjoying a pint of the good stuff with friends.  It was like old times.  See how shiny our faces are. (I am in SO much trouble now!)


Luckily for me about a year after my first foray into pub based underage drinking, with the irreversible cider damage already having been done, Two Dogs and Hooch hit the pubs and getting shitfaced became so much easier.  The alcopop was born.  These were times before they coined the phrase “binge drinking” but that’s exactly what we were doing.  We went out every Friday and Saturday night and our aim was to get drunk.  It seems odd to me that these days there is so much in the media about the binge drinking culture, what a disgrace it is that our young people would behave in this way etc etc.  Are they honestly trying to tell us that when they were young they didn’t do exactly the same?  Of course they did.

I’m all grown up now and drinking has become something I do only occasionally.  Tonight, for example I drank 2 weiss beers.  Very tasty they were too but it took me all night to drink them.  I have the odd glass of wine sometimes but if I’m completely honest I’d rather have a glass of coke or a cup of tea.  I no longer drink to get drunk.  Well, only very rarely.  This may just be because I don’t go out much at the moment and because I want to stay healthy for when we think about having baby number 4, but for now this is how it is and I like it like this.  One thing’s for sure though, even if I were trying to get drunk I most definitely wouldn’t be partaking of any cider.  Even if it could make my wee smell of apples.

Music music music

Music music music

Everybody loves music, don’t they?  I certainly do and I’ve always thought of my musical taste as being eclectic and fairly wide.  Looking at my iTunes library it turns out this isn’t the case at all.  I’ve often wondered what it is that causes people to have different musical tastes but I suppose it’s the same as anything else.  Just because I can’t understand why talentless puppets like Girls Aloud or Westlife enjoy huge success doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of it.  Does it?  Can many millions of people really be wrong?  Well, I think they must be but then I can’t abide manufactured pop.  However, I am fairly certain most of the world is peopled with morons so…

From a young age I’ve loved rock music.  Proper, heavy rock music with all drums and guitars and stuff.  Not bands like Status Quo, though, because although they tout themselves as “rock” I see them more as “cheese”.  And are they really still alive or are they all kept going with animatronics like the Queen Mother was for years?  No, I mean bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Faith No More and the like (yes, I am aware that 2 of those bands are from the past, although FNM have reformed it seems.  I wonder if they’ll be the same?).

I’ve often wondered why it is that I liked this particular kind of music because when I was growing up my parents didn’t listen to anything like it.  Their taste is far more folky and I remember being subjected to the delights of Joan Baez (uuurgh), The Fureys (bleurgh) and Roger Whittaker (gah).  They did redeem themselves a bit with Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel but I can’t help but think that damage had been done with the other…fustier artists.  I REALLY hated Joan Baez’s voice.

When I was very young I liked a fair amount of chart music, bought a few singles and listened to my older sister’s “Now That’s What I Call Music” LPs.  She had them right from number 1 back in the early 80s.  Check out the track listing!  God, that’s rubbish, isn’t it?!  You can tell they were struggling if they put in 2 Kajagoogoo songs AND a solo effort by Limahl!  I think I must have listened to volume 2 more.  Hmmmm, maybe not looking at that one’s tracks.  The very first album I bought was by Terence Trent D’Arby in 1987 when I was 11 and I remember liking Soft Cell and Michael Jackson around then as well.

So when exactly did the transition in my musical taste happen?  It’s strange but I can remember exactly how it happened.  One minute my childhood best friend and I were listening to pop music (she liked Fuzzbox! Pink Sunshine, remember that?), then Aerosmith released the album Pump and I was hooked.  Around the same time my friend found a tape in the car her family had hired while on holiday in America, Shout at the Devil by Mötley Crüe; she brought it home and we loved it.  So we bought Dr Feelgood as well.  And The Real Thing by Faith No More.  I actually remember vividly the day she bought that album and played it for the first time, I’d never even heard of them but it was possibly the only time I’ve played an album and loved every song on first listen.  And that was that, pop music was more or less a thing of the past for me.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with any more of that.  But it kind of changed our lives.  Music is unusual in that, at least when you’re young, it can dictate a great deal to you.  How you dress, which pub you go to and consequently who your friends are.  In our teens music was the be-all and end-all to us.  We were pasty visions in black clothes.  We wore band t-shirts.  We liked tie-dye.  I had REALLY bad hair and didn’t smile much.  I didn’t have much to smile about because I had really bad hair.



See?  It was pube-like.  Horrendous.

Most people grow out of the dressing according to musical taste thing, or at the very least tone it down a bit as they get older.  According to some of my friends I dress a bit like a hippy sometimes but I wholeheartedly refute that, I just like long skirts.

For a few people, however, this isn’t the case.  There is something of a worrying trend amongst some people I used to know of living in the past.  They continue to dress the same way, they still go to the same bars, their circle of friends has never evolved, it’s the same people still doing the same things week in week out.  As far as they’re concerned the mid to late 90s, its music, its fashion, everything, was the place and time to be and they cling to it with every ounce of their being.  That seems odd to me.  Sure, that was a good time in my life but an awful lot has happened since then, some really good, some unbelievably bad.  I’d like to think that acknowledging all that has happened and accepting that time moves on and that things change makes me the hopefully well-adjusted person that I am today.

So, yes, I still listen to music, old and new, and I try not to limit myself to one particular genre although that is a struggle when you’re compelled to avoid certain radio stations in case you accidentally hear Girls Aloud.  But music no longer the holds importance it did to me when I was young.  I don’t wear as much black anymore, I definitely don’t wear tie-dye and my hair is MUCH better.  I no longer use music to define me.  That’s not to say I haven’t inflicted my taste onto my children because I have, even the baby, and also I do tend to dictate what we listen to in the car. Old habits die hard, what can I say?

So what if it is best?

So what if it is best?

This will probably horrify you but my daughter is 10 months old and I’m still breastfeeding her.  In many respects this horrifies me as well.  She has teeth and she’s not afraid to use them.  There’s a special little look that she gets, a flash of pure mischievous evil, and you know she knows exactly what she’s doing.  She’s a chip off the old block.  Fortunately for me she doesn’t need much milk any more but I’m sure you’re wondering why on earth I put myself through it when I really don’t like doing it.  No, I’m not one of “those” mothers.  The answer is simple, it’s free and this time around I’ve actually been able to do it.

There’s a great deal of advice out there for pregnant women and new mothers.  All of it seems very bossy and patronising and most of it revolves around breastfeeding.  It seems that if you want your child to be intelligent and healthy you MUST breastfeed them until they’re 25.  If you want them to be sickly and a dunce then by all means give them formula milk but it will be all your fault.  And if you want to lose the baby weight quicker breastfeeding will help you with that.  Rubbish.  It’s a cunning piece of propaganda but I can absolutely assure you that’s not true.

When I had number 1 son almost 12 years ago the guidelines were very different.  They recommended breastfeeding until 6 weeks.  When I had number 2 son 2 years later they’d upped it to 3 months.  For some reason it really didn’t work for me, I tried my hardest but they ended up on formula milk so I didn’t have to get up hourly to feed them.  But the guilt!  Instead of supporting mothers who can’t (or won’t) feed their babies themselves the “healthcare professionals” that I came into contact with at the time dished out disapproval and made me feel like a terrible mother who had failed her children.  And yet my boys are both bright children who are rarely ill.  I very much doubt that this attitude to formula feeding has changed, I know of people who have struggled with it in recent years and have been made to feel bad by the breastfeeding Nazis.  Just because it worked for them doesn’t mean it works for everyone.  Surely it’s far better to be comfortable in what you’re doing rather than worrying about it?

It’s not just the professionals that lay on the guilt trips, though.  Other mothers are quite possibly the worst offenders.  There are people in the world who have a baby and become self-proclaimed experts on all things to do with children.  This really annoys me.  Maybe I’m being unfair but they strike me as the kind of people whose weeks are filled with endless baby related activities, storytime on Monday, music and movement on Tuesday, Mother and Baby group on Wednesday, baby swimming on Thursday (ok, I hold my hands up to that one but I’ve explained my reasoning here) and why not a bit of baby signing on Friday?  Baby signing? WTF?

Having a baby appears to remove these people’s identities, their whole lives now revolve around their little poo machine and everything becomes a competition.  “Really? Your baby is 7 months and still isn’t sitting up? Well, little Johnny has been doing that since he was 5 months old. And 2 days later he started walking.  And he can already recite the alphabet backwards.  And he’s just started reading War and Peace.”  Bully for him.  They don’t leave it that either, they like to inflict their advice on you too.  Things like “I can’t believe you’re giving your child a dummy, they’ll get buck teeth”.  Really nice supportive words.  Number 1 son had a dummy and his teeth are fine.  It was a struggle to get rid of it, but he finally gave it up last year.  Only joking, and I suspect he may beat me up for that…

I like to think that my friends with children and I are normal, we are still us, we still like doing things for ourselves and if we go into a shop we’ll look at the high-heeled “bedroom” shoes first, long before we look at kids clothes or toys.  OK, so I do have rather a lot of pictures of my daughter on facebook but that’s mainly because my sister paps her all the time.  And if I do ever start to show tendencies of becoming one of “those” mothers I’m lucky enough to have at least one friend who will be completely honest and point it out to me.

So I will continue to breastfeed my daughter until she is a year old when she can have cows’ milk.  And then I will be free, at least until I pop out number 4…

Idiots abound

Idiots abound

I love driving.  A long distance run, the open road, the windows down and the wind in my hair….actually no, that’s not it at all.  The open road?  You can’t travel 30 feet on the motorway without meeting some old codger in the outside lane doing 50 and veering from side to side.  And if you had the windows down you’d get wet from all the rain.  But I really do love driving.  Occasional driving, to new and exciting places.  Not tedious rush-hour-snare-up-to-work driving or fortnightly-trip-to-swap-children-with-ex driving.

Today’s joyous jaunt was a children swap to Bicester, a 200 mile round trip.  Mine is a long story, one that I will reveal to you over the course of time, but for now all you need to know is that my 2 sons mainly live with their father, that they now live some distance away and that myself and my husband have to do all the driving to pick them up.  The Bicester trip is a dull one.  The roads are fast but they are long and not very interesting.  Their main problem is that there are other cars on them.  All sorts of cars.  And vans.  And lorries.  And caravans.

Today was no exception and as well as all of the annoying car and van shaped obstacles there was rain.  Lots of rain.  I am an impatient driver.  I like to get from A to B in the shortest time possible with the minimum of fuss and ideally in one piece.  I cannot understand why it is that within 30 seconds of my starting the engine people everywhere start behaving like arseholes.  Is it just me this happens to?  The rain makes them even worse and they were out in force today.  Not moving over to let people (me) out on slip roads.  Driving 2 feet away from the car in front (mine) despite the rain.  And the old codger doing 50 in the outside lane was there too.  He was weaving from side to side in his Rover, first lining himself up with the right hand white lines and then with the left.  I was cross.

That’s another thing about me when I’m driving.  I’m impatient AND intolerant.  It never ceases to amaze me just how stupid some drivers (and cyclists and pedestrians) are.  Why are all the other drivers so rubbish at driving?  Why do so few of them use their bloody mirrors?  My annoyance manifests itself as ranting.   With swearing.  I feel duty bound to tell each and every person that upsets me exactly where they’re going wrong with their driving.  With so many morons on the roads I’m often hoarse by the time I get home.  But I don’t actually tell them these things to their faces. I don’t like confrontation unless I’m speeding away from them, safely locked in my fast moving metal box on wheels.

My favourite idiot today was driving a mini, first about a foot from my bumper until they swerved out into the traffic (without indication), undertook me and then cut me up on a roundabout.  Once on the motorway they swerved about from lane to lane, never indicating, desperately trying to make more ground than everyone else stuck in the rush hour queues.  50 miles later and after a car left the motorway I caught up with them.  All that lane changing which endangered the lives of the people around them was for what, exactly? Absolutely nothing, especially when he couldn’t get back into the outside lane and I overtook him and sped away.  Obviously while telling him what an idiot I thought he was.  God, I love driving.



This evening lovely husband and I took the kids swimming at the Pyramids in Southsea. I haven’t been swimming there since it first opened. In 1988! I am so old. Apart from looking a bit tired it really hadn’t changed a bit, the wave machine still worked, the staff looked just as bored as ever they did and even the same brats splashed me in the face and swam into my legs. I assume they were the same brats, they certainly had that same “going to grow up and appear on Jeremy Kyle” look about them.

I’m not quite sure why I only ever went once. Cost would have been a factor but I imagine that the fact I’ve always hated swimming was probably the main reason. I grew up in Petersfield, a few miles north of Portsmouth and when I was a child the only pool we had there was an outdoor one. I hated that place and still blame it for my aversion to swimming. It could have been a scorching hot summer’s day but the pool temperature would still have been absolute zero. You would actually have to psyche yourself up to get into it such was the shock of cold as you hit the water and if you didn’t get moving straight away you were in severe danger of getting hypothermia or frostbite.

When I was about 8 or 9 my school, in their infinite wisdom, decided to send us to the horrid arctic pool for a week’s swimming instruction. At the end of the week’s “fun” we would all participate in a swimming gala, racing against our friends in front of our parents. What a shame I couldn’t swim. I’m sure they tried to teach me but as I was terrified of the water I resolutely refused to let go of the (slightly chewed) float meaning that I ended up in the pity race with the one other child in the school that couldn’t swim. As I was taller and much stronger than him I won easily but the victory was hollow and my humiliation was complete when the exercise was repeated in the following 2 years since I still hadn’t learned to swim.

Eventually at the age of 13 I taught myself to swim in a nice indoor pool that was all warm and everything. But the damage was already done. To this day I am a rubbish swimmer, I must be one of the only people in the world that can’t do the breaststroke, even though I’ve really really tried I just can’t get it right. What I do is a sort of slow crawl where I don’t get my face wet and if I’m able to keep going for any period of time I veer to the left and get in people’s way. It’s useless and exhausting.

I don’t want my kids to end up like me but the boys missed out on baby swimming because I couldn’t afford to take them when they were little. Happily their schools seem much better at teaching them than mine was as number 1 son can now swim and number 2 son seems well on his way to learning. And as for the baby she absolutely loves the water and shrieks with delight the whole time she’s in the pool. Maybe I should try that?

The Joy of Exercise

The Joy of Exercise

Ah, exercise.  It’s one of those things like marmite that you either love or hate.  I absolutely love it.  I love how it makes you feel (although for me that’s always just after I’ve finished, definitely not at the time) and I love how it changes your body shape when you’ve been doing it regularly for a while.  I tend to go through phases of doing tons of exercise followed by phases of doing bugger all because for some reason I think that once I’ve got to how I want to be I can cut right back.  I’m sure I could, if only I didn’t eat so many pies and cakes, drink so much tasty beer and think of “cutting right back” as “stopping all together”.  I’m my own worst enemy.

One thing I don’t love about exercise, however, is how I look immediately after because you can definitely tell that I’ve been doing it.  My face is usually purple, my hair is soaked with sweat and dripping, I look an absolute mess.  Even when I’m at my fittest and slimmest I still sweat like a fat bird and it doesn’t help that my exercises of choice are running and spinning.  So I would like to know why it is that there are women in the gym who seem to be putting in as much effort as I am yet look fresh as a daisy at the end of their workouts?  And why do they all have much nicer exercise gear than me?

And what about those orange women who turn up in full faces of make-up?  Why on earth are they paying £50 a month to half-heartedly fanny about on the cross trainer for 10 minutes?  Could it be that they’re making eyes at the meatheads over by the free weights?  Or hoping to pick up a personal trainer?

I don’t go to the gym any more, partly because of the cost, partly because of the annoying women and partly because I got really fed up every Monday, especially at the beginning of the year, when hundreds of extra people turned up and used all the machines or took all the places in the classes.  It was frustrating that those of us that were there week in week out got no privileges for loyalty and I remember being so annoyed one evening that the spinning class I usually attended was already full half an hour before it started that I went home without doing anything, via the chippy.  Of course these New Years Resolution types are exactly the kind of people the gym owners love.  They turn up every day for 2 weeks then never go again, but are stuck in a year’s contract that they probably forget to cancel at the end.  Score.

Luckily for me running is something you can do without gym membership.  I much prefer road running but am pretty limited at the moment thanks to my pesky daughter so run at home on our treadmill.  It can be very boring and is hard to stay motivated so I watch TV programmes while I’m doing it and at least in the comfort of my own home no-one can see me in my ridiculous get up, including clown style running shoes that are 2 and a half sizes bigger than my feet.  Curse these stupid long narrow feet.

Over the years I’ve found it’s important to have something to aim for so this year I’m running the Race for Life in July (5k) and then the Great South Run in October (10 miles).  I’ve done them both before and am hoping to get round in good times.  My main aim is losing the vast amount of weight I put on during my difficult 3rd pregnancy and I can’t quite believe how long it’s taking.  But I will get there and since I’m running both races for charidee mate hopefully I’ll do some good as well.

And if you’d like to sponsor me do please feel free ;)

Race for Life is for Cancer Research:

I’m running the Great South for the NSPCC:

There’s a very fetching picture of me on there.  Go on, dig deep!

My film shame

My film shame

Last night I watched The Blues Brothers.  Now I must make an admission: I’d never seen it before.  I can offer no explanation as to how a cult classic has managed to pass me by for so long, after all it’s my kind of film, but pass me by it did.  I am suitably ashamed.  And now I’m wondering which other films widely regarded as classics I have missed in favour of an awful lot of dross.

Every year Channel 4 subject us to their “100 Greatest” series. 100 Greatest Movie Stars, TV Moments, Comedy Moments, even Adverts for goodness’ sake, as if we didn’t see enough already.  These programs are usually presented by Jimmy Carr (a man who seems so surprised by his success he doesn’t say no to anything) and in each 114 hour marathon episode they wheel out countless “celebrities” to pass comment.  It’s always the same ones and often they have nothing to do with the subject they’re commenting on.  And most of them are only celebrities by virtue of the fact that they appeared in Heat magazine once or twice.  Probably in the “ring of shame” section.   Do they just make these programmes all at the same time and decide at a later date which one to bung on when Big Brother’s finished and they haven’t been arsed to make anything new?  Or good.

A while ago they did “100 Greatest Films” so I thought this would be a good place to start to find out just how many classic films I’ve missed.  Of the 100 Channel 4 viewers voted as the best, I have seen but 32.  In the top 10 the 4 I hadn’t seen were (are you ready for this?) It’s a Wonderful Life, Blade Runner, Some Like it Hot and **gasp** The Godfather.  I fully expect to have gone down in many people’s estimation because of 2 of those.  It’s also pretty difficult for me to confess to you that I’ve never seen Withnail & I all the way through.  Why?  WHY?  No idea.

Of course, there are a fair few titles in there I am glad I’ve never seen. Titanic for example holds no interest for me and I’m sure if I had seen it I would regard it as 3 hours of my life I’d never get back.  Similarly The Seventh Seal always seemed to be far too pretentious so I stuck to the easier spoofs like in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.  I can hear the cries of “Philistine!” from here.  Hey, at least I got the reference.  I saw The Exorcist in the cinema and thought it was laughable pap.  It really hasn’t aged well, even compared to some of the dreadful horrors I watched as a teenager (remember Witchboard?), some 95% of the dross I referred to earlier.  And I wish I hadn’t seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Controversial, I know and all you boys will have your heads in your hands as you dub me a stupid, stupid woman.  Pah, it left me cold, would you rather I pretended to like it?  While I’m at it I might as well admit I’m not that fussed on the Matrix or Star Wars either.  There, I’ve said it.

Think of me what you will, but maybe the fact I don’t like Grease or Dirty Dancing (happily neither of which appear in the 100 Greatest) will redeem me a little?  Not that it really matters, personal taste is personal taste, after all.  But I don’t want you to imagine me sobbing over some lame chick flick just because I don’t like a few boys’ movies.  I’m just not that kind of girl.

Luckily for me in these days of LoveFilm it is an easy thing to redress the balance and I can soon catch up.  As I write I’m adding Taxi Driver, Blue Velvet, Spartacus, Get Carter, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Apocalypse Now and many more besides to my rental list.  Just don’t hold it against me if I don’t like them all.

Check out Channel 4′s 100 Greatest Films here.

Hopping mad

Hopping mad

Frog. It’s a pretty innocuous word, unlikely to strike fear in the hearts of man, at least not in the same way as “slasher”, “summons” or “enema”. I used to be unaffected myself, I remember in a school biology lesson we had a box of dead frogs to look at (no idea why) and I was able to handle mine without shrieking, fainting or running away and hiding. In fact, one of my favourite tales from childhood always used to be that of my mum standing barefoot on a dead frog the family cat had very kindly left in the middle of the patio. It stuck fast. How we laughed. And no, we didn’t help.

I was absolutely, genuinely, delighted about a year ago when for the first time I spotted that our garden pond was teeming with tadpoles. I hadn’t seen tadpoles since I was a child when we used to collect frogspawn in big ice cream tubs from the stream at the end of the road. We’d keep it in the garden, watch it develop and then ultimately forget about it, coming back several weeks later to a kind of dead tadpole soup. I had high hopes that wouldn’t happen in my pond and was looking forward to them getting legs and losing their tails and turning into frogs. Oh, what a fool I was! Firstly, the tadpoles never seemed to be developing. For weeks and weeks I kept looking and all that seemed to happen was that they got a bit bigger. This was very boring. Secondly, I hadn’t ever expected the froggy nightmare I was to be subjected to once our pesky kittens had their ops and were allowed outside. And once the tadpoles had all turned into frogs I rued the day I saw them and didn’t immediately aim a flamethrower at the pond, boiling them all into a kind of dead tadpole soup.

We have 2 cats, female tabbies, very pretty although one smells of bum and the other appears to have been dropped on her head at some point because she is mental and walks sideways. When they were small I thought the worst, most annoying thing they would do would be to scale the curtains or climb up the back of the sofa with their claws. The sofa really is totally ruined. Unfortunately, once they were allowed outside I hadn’t bargained for their kitty instincts or the stupidity of frogs. It wasn’t long before we had an unexpected visitor hopping about in the hall. And so my phobia was born. I don’t mind frogs in their own environment, I don’t wade around in ponds as a rule so they don’t bother me there. There’s just something horribly wrong about a clammy, hoppy frog on a carpetted floor, appearing out from behind the baby’s toys, making me jump and irrationally worry that it’s going to hop onto me. Or worse, onto the baby.

If the cats had only brought frogs into the house a handful of times perhaps my phobia might not have had the opportunity to take hold. But within a couple of days of the first incident I heard a strange noise while I was in the garden, sort of like a wailing cat, and I assumed that my cat was fighting another. When I went to look I realised that in fact Bumcat had cornered a frog and every time she batted it with her paw or tried to pick it up in her mouth it let out a piercing scream. That’s right, frogs scream. This was nearly enough to tip me over the edge and despite my attempts to scare the cat off by hitting her with a tea towel and shouting at her in a high pitched voice (I looked ridiculous) she wouldn’t let go. The phobia was now firmly rooted and irreversible.

I’d hoped that frog visits would be few and far between but they are not. Even winter, even SNOW was not enough to stop them from happening. The cats seem to wait until my husband has just left for work before they bring them in, or the frog remains in hiding until the door closes and they’ve heard his footsteps walking away before TADAAAAAA!!! Out they hop. There is always at least one frog a week, usually more, and some days several appear. A few of my friends think it is hilarious, but perhaps they should ask themselves the question of how they would feel if a plague of frogs was visited upon them? I’m hopping mad.

To pamper or not to pamper

To pamper or not to pamper

This evening I have very pretty finger and toenails after an afternoon’s pampering. Nothing special about that, you’re probably thinking, but I very rarely do anything like this and I’m certain this is the first time in my 33 years that the colour of my fingernails has matched that of my toenails. Except possibly as a teenager when we painted our nails black and drew candles and spiders’ webs and skulls on them with fuse wire. We were SO alternative back then. Well, we thought we were.

Everybody likes a bit of pampering, don’t they? Of course they do, but I must admit I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of a massage; being rubbed by a total stranger is far more likely to stress me out than relax me. On a pampering weekend with friends many years ago I plumped for an Indian head massage. All my life I’ve loved having my hair played with (is that weird?) and expected this massage to be much the same. Up to a point it was, I was just a bit taken aback when I realised I had to half undress. In retrospect it was lovely, even if I did get oil in my hair.

I don’t really understand my disinclination towards massage when millions of people love it. Perhaps I’m just funny like that. But it isn’t just massage. I have a number of female friends that like to hug hello and goodbye. I do it but I’m not that comfortable with it. And the kissing thing! I actually don’t know what to do! Do I go “mwah” to the air? Do I kiss their cheek? Why don’t I know this? Can they detect my unease? I don’t have the same problem with male friends. I am rubbish.

Maybe I should try harder to overcome these frankly inconsequential things. Who really cares if the masseuse I’ll probably never see again thinks I’m flabby? It’s nice that my friends like to hug their hellos, and there’s no reason why it should make me feel uncomfortable, that’s just silly. I can learn about the kissing thing too, somewhere I have a copy of Debrett’s Etiquette for Girls bought for me by a friend as a joke, I hope. It’s bound to be in there.

As a child I was painfully shy, I’m sure, dear reader, you don’t find that hard to believe. I’ve changed a lot since then but perhaps these little difficulties I have are what remains. I’ve overcome many things in my life, maybe now it’s time to overcome the rest.