Keep smiling…….

Potty Training for Wimps

I’m sure most of you (facebookers) saw this post coming.

At the Pirate household this week, we have been all things potty.  Obsessed with my child’s movements to a degree bordering on feverish.  The poor little blighter is hounded from the minute his sweet moon shaped eyelids ping open in the morning, until he finally gets some peace once we pop a nappy on him for bedtime.

I’ll be the first to admit, if I had my way, he’d be in nappies until he was old enough to train himself. Nappies do not phase nor inconvenience me one little bit, in fact, quite the opposite.  

Whatever else may be going haywire in my day-to-day childcare duties, the strong dependable nappy has been my unwavering ally and best friend.  

Ah, the sturdy nappy. Dealing the the mess and spills I have no desire to come into contact with, save for lightning fast pit-stop style nappy changes that would rival most F1 pit crews for speedy turnarounds (I’m limited by the amount of time I can hold my breath for, obviously)

Everything I had read, and tales from experienced parents all agreed, do not even bother to train your child until your child is ready, and fully able to comprehend the task ahead of them.  Most of these advocate somewhere around the 3 year mark.  We’re told to ignore all these old wives tales (and one book I read specifically mentioned pushy mother-in-laws) who claim to have trained their infants before the age of one.  

Poppycock, was the consensus, as sitting your baby on a pot for hours on end until they eventually wet themselves does not count.

Of course, children are and have been trained at much younger ages than 3, some as early as 18 months or even before that, but from what I could gather, the training took a lot longer, and was far more stressful/hard work.

Considering I wasn’t looking forward to it anyway, I certainly wasn’t about to make life more difficult for myself by starting too early.

Also, training at a very early age was much the preserve of previous generations, whose toddlers wore cloth nappies. These were very uncomfortable to wear if wet and soiled, so the child would have a slight incentive to establish bladder control earlier in life, something my little Soss is entirely unencumbered by.

Despite the fact we’d had no intention of beginning potty training until much later in life (ours and his) we had actually begun to sow the seed early doors.  

We got him a copy of Pirate Pete’s Potty, a lovely board book which follows young Pirate Pete on his adventure from nappies to big boy pants.  It has a button to press at the end of every page which lets out a huge cheer as Pirate Pete successfully completes his potty training.  It’s very graphic and makes me heave, gag and giggle throughout, despite being a cartoon.  Soss loves it, and it didn’t take too long before he started asking for a potty of his own.


Still hugely in denial that this phase was ever going to occur, we bought him a potty, plonked it on the floor and invited him to mount it.  Soss side-eyed it with suspicion and flat out refused.  

I’m ashamed to say, I was quite relieved.  I know this is part of parenting, and a milestone that every child must reach.  I had no real intention of allowing my child to start school still in Pampers, but I was definitely keen on putting it off.  I felt out of my depth, and certainly my comfort zone.  I’m not keen on mess, is all.  I’ve hoovered my actual husband before now, as he sat on the sofa munching biscuits.  (In my defence, the man haemorrhages crumbs, it’s like sitting next to a blooming wood chipper)  

In my haste to have beautiful bouncing babies, I completely overlooked the part where I’d have to allow them to roam around my house like wild animals, shitting on my carpet with gay abandon.

That was about two months ago.  Last week, out of nowhere, he requested Pirate Pete’s Potty for his bedtime story, and told us he was going to sit on his potty the following day.  “Yeah right!   Good one, Soss!” we chortled, as we kissed him goodnight.

True to his word, the following morning, he retrieved his potty from the toilet room, positioned it in front of the telly, asked to be disrobed (entirely, this child does not do things by halves) and sat, with not a stitch on, for over an hour.

Pirate and I watched, nonplussed.  What do we do now?  Should we let him sit there indefinitely? How long should we leave him?  Should we interfere at all?  Should we let nature take its course and see what Soss’ reaction is?

After an hour and 20 minutes, Soss announced he was ready to get off the potty.  We helped him to his feet, and to our huge surprise, he had actually produced a respectable amount of liquid in his potty!  

We did wonder, how long into his marathon potty session this had actually occurred.  I do hope it wasn’t in the first 5 minutes, and the poor little thing was just sitting there, as confused and bewildered as we were as to what we should all do next and wondering if he should mention it.

As exciting as it was, we could not ignore the fact that our child was clearly ready, and we were going to have to tackle this head on.  Push aside the nagging voice in my head whining “but he’s only 2 and a half!  I’ve got six more months of clean cream carpets to enjoy!”, dig deep and get stuck in.

The following day, we threw ourselves in at the deep end.  The first morning, there were 3 accidents, and Soss seemed quite upset by these.  We gently reminded him that he needed to go in his potty, and to tell us if he felt he needed to go.  

Obviously, this is completely alien to a little person who has spent the last two and a half years letting rip whenever the feeling took him, and not having to think about it, or do anything, or stop doing anything, or make an announcement.  

However, the afternoon saw Soss tearing across the landing in his 4th set of pants, yelling “MummyDaddyPottyQuickly!!!!” scrambling aboard and get his aim and timing spot on, to huge applause and fuss from his delighted parents.

The second day saw vast improvement.  A couple of accidents, but the successes outweighed the failures, and we could tell he had figured out, overnight, not only that he needed to control his bladder but how to do it effectively.

On the third day, there were no accidents at all.  This was nothing short of miraculous, and we showered our little pup with praise, cuddles and cheers.

Troublingly, there had also not been any number 2s for this length of time either.  The books said that some children really don’t like performing on the pot and it can take weeks or even months to get a Richard the Third in the potty.

Soss produced one on the fourth day, and was immensely proud of his achievement, as were we all!  He has also become very involved in the whole process, and loves to talk us through it.  “Mummy I did a wee wee on potty and it came out of my lorry and then we flush it in toilet and send it to the seaside!” he squeals with glee.  It’s adorable.  No, I’m not sure where he got “lorry” from either.  Frankly, I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

So, it would appear that with the help of Pirate Pete, some toddler books (notably Gina Ford’s Potty Training in One Week) and a very adaptable smart cookie for a son, Soss appears to be pretty much potty trained in less than a week.  His potty star chart in the kitchen is brimming with dazzling gold stickers, a glowing endorsement of his unbelievable tekkers on the toddler throne.  How on earth did we get so lucky?

I’m not daft.  I know exactly how this is going to go.  He’s saving up the big one.  I’m being lured into a false sense of security.  Although we’ve had one accident-free trip to a local shop, we can’t stay local forever.  We can’t limit trips to under one hour indefinitely.

It’s an undetermined point in my near future.   I’m seeing the supermarket.  I’m seeing possibly the fresh fruit aisle.  I’m seeing horrified old dears dropping their baskets and clutching their pearls, gasping and stricken.  Grown men in tears.  People fleeing in terror, as someone yells “won’t somebody think of the children?!” and “my eyes! There’s not enough therapy to cope with that!” as Soss unleashes an Armageddon style shitstorm on the one day I forget to pack his spare shreddies.

“Clean up, aisle five.  Code brown”  And could someone point me in the direction of the wine?




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The Emperor’s New Uniform

Punching my way into my dressing gown, I huff across my bedroom and barge through the bathroom door.  Staggering bleary-eyed and drunk-like, I set about addressing the problem that has indecently disturbed my precious, beloved sleep.

Ladies.  Before you decide to procreate, to experience the wonderment and fulfilling contentment that comes with motherhood, have a good, hard look at yourselves and ask yourselves this question.  Do I like my toilet?

In fact, liking it might not cut it.  You’re gonna need some serious love for that throne, cus you’re gonna be spending the vast majority of your time perched on your porcelain.  If it’s not the normal upright orientation, it’ll be the head-first, helpless heaving style for a much closer look.  It’s a truly magical time.

Now, this isn’t my first rodeo, but it’s amazing how much you forget.  I had neatly blocked from memory the twenty-minutely trips to the toilet, which don’t discriminate or desist when day turns to night.  Added to the mix are general bouts of insomnia and discomfort, so when you really should be banking all that lovely sleep for the Guantanamo style deprivation torture that a beautiful newborn baby brings, nature decides you can get some practice in early doors and keeps you up, or restless, most of the night.

And so it was on this occasion, having just about passed out from exhaustion rather than drifting off, that my bladder declared an immediate emergency and set off an internal alarm to assault my weary self back to consciousness and spend some more quality time on the Gary. (Glitter)

None of this puts me in a particularly good mood, to say the least.  So please bear that in mind when considering the circumstances under which I formed the opinions found in this piece.

I got back into bed, bladder satisfied, and sighed.  I’m awake now.  I’ll just fanny about on my phone for a bit, check the news etc, until my eyes start stinging and I have to close them, hoping to trick my body into thinking it’s actually asleep.

Nothing prepared me for the HORROR I found.

Turns out, Virgin Atlantic have only gone and got themselves a new uniform.

Now then.  When I worked for Virgin, we wore that uniform with pride.  We stood out.  Bold, striking visions in red we were, with our winning smiles, immaculate hair and make up (yes we did have lessons during training), it really set us apart from everyone else in the airport including crew from other airlines.  I’ve worked for another airline, and that uniform didn’t have anything like the impact the glorious Virgin uniform commanded.  It was as if the red we were wearing projected a red carpet along the floor before us, along which we marched through the departure lounge, oozing glamour.

While I’m relieved to say the new uniform is still red, it’s also (and I’ll go out on a limb here) a hot mess.

Unveiled last week at a star-studded glitz and glamour affair, the new uniform, designed by Vivienne Westwood no less, is (here goes another limb) ill- fitting, impractical and not well thought through at all.

While now out on two limbs, I must take a minute to acknowledge I’m probably on my own here. I realise this will not be a popular view, and am likely to start receiving hate mail for having the temerity to besmirch the good work of St Vivienne of Clothes, but two points I must stress:

1) I don’t give a monkeys; and

2) You tell em, Julie:



I also know I’m in no position to judge, given that my style is less off-the-catwalk, more off-the-floor, smatterings of glue, bogies and Weetabix adorn my baggy mumsy maternity wear.  Also, since I don’t work for Virgin any more, this doesn’t actually affect my life, just my eyes.

However, I have an opinion, and I hope to explain why my objection to this uniform is not merely for the lack of aesthetic appeal, but also the complete ridiculousness of the outfit for the purpose it was intended.  So much ridiculousness,  it almost beats the lyrics to Do They Know It’s Christmas in the ridiculousness stakes.  (That’s a whole other blog, but since you asked: “there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas” – no, probably not.  It’s Africa, innit.  The Sahara Desert lives there.  Some of it is on the Equator.  Some of it is below the equator, therefore enjoying a nice summer while you’re bleating on about the lack of snow.  “Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?” – do they give a giddy fuck, more like, given that a lot of those countries are not actually Christian countries. I digress)

Let’s have a look at this picture, to see the extent of the problem.

virginuniform virginuniform2


Those jackets do not fit properly.  They are not flattering at all.  The sticky-up collar is not too offensive, but these are for trolley dollies, not shop mannequins.  It’ll take one bout of “your exits are here, here, and here” for the whole lot to get caked in orange foundation.  Where’s the neck scarf??  A STAPLE PART of any air hostess’ uniform!  Without it, you’re just wearing a suit.


This brings me to my biggest complaint.  What, in the name of all that is holy, the actual fuck is going on with the ruffly shirt?  WHAT IS THAT??!! An abomination, that’s what.  Are we 17th century poets, or flouncy aristocrats, or are we meant to be glamorous sexy hosties??!!!!  What Virgin should have done, is parked Viv on the business end of a cart flying to one of Virgin’s many destinations, and back, and see how she loves a ruffly shirt then.  How the dickens do you iron that thing??

Let’s be realistic.  Let’s put Viv on a Hong Kong/Sydney.  So, start at Heathrow, fly to Hong Kong,  stay in Hong Kong then fly to Sydney.  Two nights in Sydney, back to Hong Kong for one more night, then back to good old Blighty.  That’s a 5-nighter, or, in the terms we need to be talking, a 4-shirter.  That’s right.  One shirt to start with, and three in your bag for the remaining sectors.  Never mind how to iron one shirt, at home, you’ve now got to contend with 3 foreign hotel irons.

The difficulty of navigating the ruffles notwithstanding (but a bloody good point nonetheless), trying to get anything pressed with hotel equipment is nigh on impossible.  If you do happen do be blessed with an iron in your room, great!  That’s a third of the battle right there.  Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be much warmer than an Eskimo’s fart, so good luck with that.

If you don’t have an iron, which a lot of the time you don’t, you have to go on a holy grail quest/waiting list longer than that for an NHS operation for the only iron in the hotel.  When I used to check in to a particular hotel in Johannesburg, I would ask the reception staff there and then to book the iron for me, in the vain hope it might cross my path before I checked out again 36 hours later.  It was a total nightmare, and having a difficult shirt to boot would have sent me clean over the edge.

I quite like the coat.







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I’m one hot mamma.

You!  At the back!  Stop sniggering!  This statement is factually correct.  I exist in the singular; there is only one of me, despite one of my sisters looking so much like me we’re sometimes mistaken for twins.

I am also a mamma – the free hormone-assisted boob job, the bags-for-life under my eyes and the sweetly snoozing blonde angel over the landing are all testament to this fact.

And I am hot.  Red hot, godammit.  Hot in the temperature stakes.  My bedroom, where I am writing, is totally tropical.

The solution is simple, yet I dare not open the windows to allow a calm cool breeze to replace the stuffy stale residual heat of the afternoon which has overstayed its welcome.  The reason?

There’s something in the garden that might come in.

One thing I hadn’t spotted in the original house contract was that included in the sale of the land was one personal bat.

An actual hairy, flying bat.  You might have thought they’d mention that.

He’s our personal bat, because he spends every evening gaily wheeling and swooping round the perimeter of our garden wall, across the house, and back.  Over and over.  He doesn’t visit anyone else, he sticks to our garden.  I don’t know if any of our neighbours have their own personal bats, whether it’s a Rugby thing, and you get issued one when you move in, or whether it’s just us.

We’ve named him Boris.

As much as I enjoy Boris’ company in our garden of an evening, I most certainly don’t want him in my bedroom.

I’ve had a bat in my bedroom before, and it didn’t end well .  (For the bat)

It brings a smile to my face to set the scene of my tale “There’s a Bat in my Bedroom, What am I Gonna Do?” in Jamaica.  Kingston, to be precise, on the first ever trip I did as a member of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew.

After a few post-flight beverages at the bar, I had made my way back to my room on the 11th floor and decided to sit and admire the view from my balcony.  I could see all the way across the city to the sea, and tails of aircraft at the airport which sits on a tiny peninsula.  My bedroom light was on as dusk was falling, and the orange sky grew heavy with purples and greys.

Suddenly, a flurry of wings and doom blasted past me and into my bedroom, where it struck the opposite wall and tore around in a frenzy, bewildered and angry.

I had no idea what had just smashed into my room.  I grew up in a small village in Buckinghamshire, where wildlife do not hurl themselves in at your windows, certainly not 11 floors up, and start creating a din.  I was ill-equipped to deal with such an eventuality, much less indentify the offending beast.

Trapped on the balcony, with some demented, ungodly creature wreaking havoc in my room, I took a minute to consider my options.

Panic surged through my veins, raced to my brain to flood out any sensible ideas.  Problem solving ability lagged behind the urgent impulse to RUN AND HIDE.  GET OUT, GET AWAY from this THING.

Sadly, fate, and perhaps, the wind, had launched this foul being right in the path of my only means of escape.

I reached in, flicked the light off, and almost at once, the manic flapping and banging stopped.  Good.  GOOD, I thought.  And also unexpected.  My ideas are usually weapons-grade rubbish.

OK.  Deep breaths.  Dig deep.  Fast run to the door.

Except, what if it was still flying around quietly, and then flew in my face or my hair?  The horror!

Only one thing for it.  Commando crawl to the door, in the dark, get the hell out and run to reception and squeal like a stuck pig.

This is exactly what I did.

My squealing got the attention of the reception staff, two ladies and a man who were gathered around the desk having a chin wag, and rather bemused at the sight of a wide-eyed, hysterical hostie.

“THERE’S A THING IN MY ROOM!!” I shrieked, out of breath and gesticulating wildly.

“What’s in your room?” asked one of the ladies, understandably confused.

“I don’t know, but it’s FLYING” I elaborated, perhaps not far enough.

“Is it…..a fly?” asked the man, and a slight grin appeared across his face.

“NOOOOO!!  NO NO NO!  It’s THIS BIG!!!” I declared and extended a full arm span and adopted my most dramatic face.

The parade of arched eyebrows this statement received persuaded me to revise my initial estimates.  “Ok” I conceded, “this big” and extended both arms straight out in front.

“Is it a bird?” asked one of the ladies, getting slightly bored.

“NO!” I don’t know what it is, but it’s big, it’s cross and its flapping round my room really loudly!”

“Go and have a look” said one of the ladies to the man, and he got up and started across the reception area.

Once we were up at my room, I stayed behind him as he went in and turned the light on.  He popped his head round the door a few seconds later.

“I can’t see anything” he said.

Against my better judgement, I went in.  Maybe it had left?

No sooner had I entered the room than the animal sprang to life again, hurling itself from one wall to the other, and I ducked in terror as the man laughed.

“It’s OK, it’s just a bat, I’ll get rid of it”, he said, and began chasing it round the room with a cushion.

This agitated an already fairly agitated bat, and the hotel man and the bat crashed around the room , up and over furniture like a scene from Tom and Jerry.

As they came towards me again, I screamed and dived into the wardrobe.  I slammed the doors shut, hoping that my refuge would shield me from any more sights and sounds of this nightmarish experience.  Sadly for me, the wardrobe had slats in the doors, and unfortunately I had a front row seat when the hotel man changed tactics, took off his shoe and made a swift and devastating contact with the bat.

As soon as the bat was downed, he then (and I promise I’m not getting mixed up with Wayne’s World) proceeded to beat it to death with his own shoes, while I was inches away in the wardrobe covering my eyes and ears as best I could.

It was carnage.  The hotel man collected up the body and assorted bat bits, and called to me inside the wardrobe that that bat was gone and I could come out now.

He asked if there was anything else he could help with.

I asked for a new room.

I kept the windows shut.

I do not wish the same fate to befall Boris.  But bats need to learn  and respect boundaries.

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A Rant in Which I Call You All a Bunch of C**ts

You know who I really fecking hate??  PEOPLE, that’s who.

Oh, not you!  Come back!!  Come baaack, look at me.  It’s not you.

Ok, sometimes it’s you.

But not this actual time.  This time, it’s them. Peeeeeople *growls and adjust facial features to thunderous*

Specifically, people at work.  More specifically, people at work who interrupt my days with their tomfoolery and nonsense.  I’ve had a right old day of it, and I can’t be doing with it.

Firstly – the Jehovah’s Witnesses who called at my door this morning.

I’ve got to hand it to the Jehovah’s lot, they’ve got a good ruse going.  Send round two little old dears who look (through the spy hole) like they have definitely brought you a hamper of homemade muffins, and trick you into opening the door.  Thus fooled, you are then confronted with floral loveliness, sing-song voices and kindly eyes and you know, as well as they do, you will not have it in you to tell them to piss off.

“We’re so glad we caught you at home” said the lady who was to do all the talking.

“Can we ask you how you think the Earth and all the plants and animals came into being?”

I suspected I could probably guess what they were angling at.  A smile appeared on my face.  No need to throw me one on sport, I know this one.

But before I could answer, she continued “do you think it was evolution or something else?”

“Well, ok”, I started, slightly wrong-footed.  I mean, it’s been a while since i was at uni, and I’m a bit rusty, but I’m fairly sure I got to grips with the fundamentals.

“Erm, well, I know it’s a theory but there seems to be quite a lot of scientific evidence to point towards it” I tried, carefully, mindful that I didn’t really want to offend a pair of fragrant octogenarians before lunchtime.

She leaned in and adopted a business-like tone.  “But do you believe in evolution, or do you the believe that the universe is much too special and wonderful to have come about purely by chance?”

Keen to press her point, she continued “do you think it matters what we believe?”

Well, fuck me, Doris, isn’t that a bit deep for a Thursday morning?  Here I am, in my scruffs, having had a night of broken sleep, and you’re trying to have a philosophical debate with existential undertones on my doorstep, and to be quite honest, the only thing I’m wondering right now is how my toddler has managed to get both slippers in his mouth.

What to do?  How to get rid of them with minimal fuss and zero offence caused?

Doris handed me the opportunity on a silver plate.  “I can see you’re busy” gesturing to a stair-climbing, giggling child.  “Can I leave you this leaflet and we’ll come back and discuss it some other time?  It offers a very balanced view of the issues we’re discussing, you’ll find it balanced and totally even-handed.”

“Sure.  Fine.  Thank you”  I said, and closed the door.

Well, I have read it.  It’s about as balanced as my 14-month-old son in his wellies.

Two thirds is dedicated to slating and undermining any scientific views on the subject, each section ends with a series of aggressive agenda-heavy interrogations, for example:

“Does it seem logical to you to believe that the brilliant engineering evident in nature came about by accident?”  You can almost hear them spitting the word ‘accident’ onto the page.

“How would you respond to the claim that the Earth is nothing special, just another setting where evolution could occur?”  So, hold on a cotton picking minute – this is all about how it makes you feel, rather than what the evidence i.e.  fossil record shows us?

The rest is a desperate attempt to rebuild credibility in the Bible’s claims that the Earth was made in 7 days.  4 pages of “it doesn’t say that exactly” and “a day could be any length of time” silliness.  They’ve even managed to find a few scientists who don’t ‘believe’ in evolution, to point at and crow “see? even the scientists don’t believe it!”

It rounds off by asserting that belief in god is the only way to a fulfilling life, because to believe in evolution is to believe that nothing really matters and stuff just happens and life is pointless.

So, basically, Doris, you’ve back pedalled a whole bunch, glossed over the evidence you really can’t ignore and cherry picked your contributors.  And summed up with, let’s face it, a bit of a threat.

I’m an open-minded gal, live and let live etc, I respect everyone’s rights to their own beliefs and I expect other to do likewise.  Therefore, don’t come knocking on my door with your hysterical preaching claiming that evolution must be bollocks because it damages your ego and doesn’t really allow for you to be the centre of the universe.

In fact, I’d have had far more respect for them if they said “this is our book, these are our beliefs and we stand by them”, rather than their tirade of excuses and misdirection.

I wish I could report more favourably on it, I really do, but they didn’t really give me much to go on.  I was genuinely interested to read a balanced discussion on the subject, and this fell very short of the mark.

On the plus side, I’m looking forward to discussing it with them when they come back…….don’t think we’ll be bothered again!


Secondly, the fecking dentist.

“Hello, Mrs Murphy?”


“Hi, this is Sandra from your dental surgery.  I’ve just seen that you haven’t rearranged your appointment for treatment, shall we do that now?”

“Oh!   I cancelled the last appointment was because the treatment you suggested would interfere with something I’ve having done somewhere else, so I called you to explain this and cancelled it, I don’t want to rearrange”

“Oh!  Well, I’ve got a file open now, and I CAN’T keep the file open for longer than 2 months”

*impatiently* “right?”

“So, you’ll have to have the treatment by the end of march, or not at all”

“As I said when I cancelled, not at all please”

“Oh ok, but we had the form open, so I’ve got to book you in or we’ll have to close it”

“OK.  Close it?”

“Right, yes, Mrs Murphy, yes, there’s just the matter of paying for your check up then.”

“I did.  When I was there.  In January.”

“Let me just check…….Murphy is it?”

“Yes.  It might have been my husband who paid”

“And that would be………Mr Murphy?”

*pause to stare deadpan into imaginary film crew camera*

*slowly* “yeeees”

“We can’t find it here, are you under another name?”

*summoning heroic amounts of restraint, chomps knuckles* “no”

“Ah here it is!  We were looking at the wrong one!”


“Ah yes, that was all paid, so I’ll close this file now, and we’ll see you again once your treatment elsewhere has finished!”

“Mmm.  bye”

I know I don’t get a busting great deal of adult conversation in the day, and much as I appreciate you taking the time to call me to tell you how to do your job, I don’t think this qualifies.  Aside from the ridiculous ‘form’ situation, one of my greatest pet peeves is people who use ‘can’t’ when they mean ‘won’t’.  And the tone the ‘can’t’ is delivered in; a simpering, sanctimonious gush of patronising whining that it makes me feel stabby all of a sudden.  I used to hear it all the time at work, people pleading with passengers to just sit down and belt up – “the plane CAN’T take off until you do your seatbelt up” – have your heard yourself?!  I may not be Professor Brian Cox, but am fairly confident that aerodynamics are entirely separate to airline policy.  And thank fuck for that!


Thirdly: Asda

So, me ‘n Soss went up Asdah’s, innit.  They had an offer on.  12 for 6 pounds.  12!  6 pounds!  Done and done, I declared, and duly loaded my trolley.

To cut a very tedious story short, we came to pay, and no such offer presented itself.  My eagle eyes scanned the receipt, and my attention turned to the cashier.

“These were supposed to be on offer, but it’s not come through” I said, expecting a humble apology and a swift resolution.

“You’ll have to go to Customer Services” Mavis drooled, disinterested.  “I can’t sort nuffink out here”.

“Lovely, thanks for your help” I responded, and wheeled both the produce of my shopping trip and of my loins over to aforementioned desk.

I explained the problem.  Without even looking at my receipt, or my shopping, Maureen haughtily declared ” you can’t mix big jars with small jars.”

“I haven’t!” I said, utterly confused, and now extremely self-conscious about what it was about me or my appearance that marked me out as some kind of jar-mixing piss taking chancer.

“You can’t mix big jars……….with small jars” she said again, as if taking to someone who didn’t understand English.

“They are all the same size – look” I produced two jars, selected at random, and displayed them in such close proximity as to clearly show they were indeed, equal.

“Well, they’re different.  See, this one’s a different size” said Maureen, whose conviction stood up impressively against compelling evidence to the contrary.

“NO!” I said, firmly, they are the same size, and part of the same promotion.”

“Well, you can’t have two different brands then.”

I’m starting to get pissed off now.  Soss is fidgeting.

“Well, it says ANY 12 for £6, and they were all in the same section, under the same banner, and marked up as part of that same promotion”

“No, you can’t do it” said Maureen. But let’s go and have a look at the shelf.”

Fine.  Let’s.

Me:  “See, all part of the same promotion, and nothing to say you can’t have different brands.”

“No, you’ve had them off different shelves, this one is from this shelf, and this one is from the shelf below”

“But the promotion markings cover six of these shelves, so it’s reasonable to assume that anything on these shelves is covered by the same promotion, isn’t it?”

“It’s a different one though”

“Well, you need a sign to tell your customers that they can only choose things off one particular shelf.”

“Let’s put some back and get all one brand instead”

“OK, fine, I’ll put back the cheaper ones, and replace them with the more expensive ones, is that ok?”

“Yes we’ll put them through”

Back to the till.  Takes all jars back.  Puts new set of jars, all the same brand, through the till.

No discount.

Me:  “Oh!”  *under breath* “shit!” “I think I know what’s happened!”

Maureen: “What?”

Me: “I’ve only got 10 jars here – I’ve just recounted!  Bloody baby brain!”

Maureen: “That’s why it won’t work – you’ve only got 10 jars, and you need 12, and you’ve only got 10, but you need 12.  And you’ve only got 10, you see”

Me: “Add these two that we took back from a different brand then, I’ll have them to make up my 12”

Maureen “Yes, because what’s happened is, you only had 10, and you need 12 you see – oh look, that’s worked now!”

Me:  “So you can mix brands.  In your face, Maureen”

Now.  What annoys me about this story is not that I made a silly mistake.  It was the barrage of bullshit that spewed forth from Maureen before I actually figured out what the problem was myself, and then had it repeated back to me, as if she had been the one to discover it.

How many times did she try and fob me off with some jobsworthy nonsense?  Made up rules on the spot and expected me to just swallow them on faith like some limp under-cooked horse burger?  Fair enough, I made the mistake with the counting.  But if she had done her job properly, surely that should have been the first thing she should have checked?  I would have even allowed some gentle ribbing, such was the school-boy nature of my error, if she had nailed the problem straight off with some logical problem-solving.  But instead, she just kept the tall tales coming until the conflagration raging in her underwear fair choked us all.

From now on, I’m going to have my shopping delivered, judge a dentist by the competence of their reception staff and put a big sign on my front door saying


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Cats. Fluffy, affectionate, cute and cuddly.

When they want something.

The rest of the time, they’re self-centred, piss-taking scroungers who treat the place like a hotel. The thanks you’ll get for supplying them with daily bowls of Go-Cat (other cat biscuits are available) and a nice warm basket? Your carpets and curtains ripped to sh*t and various small, mutilated carcasses of Countryfile favourites strewn across your doorstep. Nothing irks me more than when people misread this as a sign of the cat’s generous spirit and fondness for you as his or her owner. “Oh look, Nibbles has brought me a present!” they’ll coo, unaware that the message behind Nibbles’ murderous display is not a token of his affection, but a stark warning: “See this? This could be you. If the mood takes me, I can end you with death. Just keep the Kitekat comin'” (points two claws at own eyes, then points them at you whilst fixing you with a psychotic icy glare)

Cats….. in fact, pets in general: They’re not for me.

The inspiration for this blog post is two-fold: This article in the Bucks Herald, and my sister’s own cat, Elmo.

A round-up of the article – a cat known as ‘Oscar the Asbo Cat’, who had terrorised the residents of Wingrave in Buckinghamshire, went missing but turned up after his antisocial antics resulted in his being captured and identified by his chip. According to the paper, Oscar not only picks fights with dogs, but hospitalised a local resident. The man, referred to as ‘Oscar victim’ spent a week in hospital, and has added his tuppence worth to the article that he would be reloading his water pistol. Another resident, who “didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals” is quoted as saying “If it had been a dog that attacked a human it would have been put down.

The fact that it was a cat, you can’t legally do anything about it. People were hoping he would turn up in a body bag.”

Now. There are two sides to every story. A quick glance down to the comments section reveals quite a defence for Oscar, citing correctly that he is a cat, and as such, is behaving……. like a cat. The comment that gave me most pause (paws! *sigh*) for thought was one from a Wingrave resident, who claims that Oscar’s owner has been the subject of a hate campaign, has been verbally abused on her doorstep, and that Oscar is no more than an instinctive, territorial animal who will defend himself and his domain if the situation calls for it. The poster posits the theory that Oscar’s disappearance was no accident, and chides his/her fellow Wingravians for their “disgusting” behaviour.

Lord knows, I’m not a massive fan of the hairy pilchard-breathed bastards, but come the f*ck on. If this poster is to be believed, then that’s pretty awful.

It’s interesting that ‘Oscar Victim’ doesn’t go into detail about the alleged attack and the actual injuries sustained that would render you hospitalised for a week. Seriously, let’s get some perspective. We’re not talking about being mauled by a fecking cheetah here. A cat’s full repertoire of attacking moves are – biting, and scratching, and this will (mostly) only happen if they feel threatened or scared. A good rule of thumb with cats – stay out of their way, and they’ll generally stay out of yours. Cats are a fact of life; people are allowed to keep them, and you might not like it, but you do have to lump it. If someone else’s cat is causing you serious problems, then by all means, have a polite word with the owner – Oscar’s owner appears to be very mindful and committed to keeping her ferocious flea-bag under control, but kidnap plots, death threats and the like are just bang out of order.

I don’t like next-doors’ dog, it’s a nasty yappy rat thing, and I yearn to sneak into their garden and toe-punt it clean over the fence, but live and let live. I don’t bombard my neighbours with hate mail. Yes, it barks, and that bark gets in my ears and annoys me, but it is just doing what dogs do. Build a bridge. Get over it.

This article put me very much in mind of my sister’s cat – Sausage’s hirsute ginger cousin, Elmo. He is the most grumpy, bad-tempered, miserable cat that has ever graced the planet. He scraps with every animal he comes into contact with – cats, dogs, the lot. He once turned up back home with someone’s Koi Carp in his chops. We’ve been calling him Asbo for years (Bucks Herald – you’re welcome) and we describe his personality as having a serious attitude problem – ‘Cattitude’, if you will.  His file at the vets has a ‘dangerous animal’ warning on it, and Elmo is trussed up like Hannibal Lecter after one too many bitey episodes.  (In Elmo’s defence, I’d be a bit bite-y, nay, stabby, if someone tried to shove a thermometer up my balloon knot.)

In fact, my sister chose him specifically for the scowl on his wretched terracotta face. She thought it gave him an edge.

We’ve had nine fun-filled years of his constant sulking and random outbursts. He shuns affection, assaulting you with a flurry of paws and teeth if you try to stroke or pat him. His mission is to inconvenience you at every turn. He won’t sit on your lap, unless you’ve put a paper or book on there you’re trying to read. He obstructs doors and doorways. He will constantly howl at the back door for you to get up and let him out, and when you finally give in, he roots himself to the spot and refuses to budge . We’re not friends.

I was a bit nervous about what Elmo’s reaction to Sausage might be. We never leave the cat and the baby unattended, but I have never been more surprised in my life.

He seems to actually like him! There’s not one hint of his aggressive behaviour when the baby is there. If we sit Sausage in the middle of the floor, Elmo will either hide behind the sofa, or hug the skirting boards around the edges of the room to go round him. He shows my sisters and I nothing but malevolence and contempt, but reveres Sausage as one of his own kittens. If you think this is over the top, check out these photos of Elmo and Sausage.

We had been out for the afternoon, Sausage helped himself to a snooze in the buggy and as it was a nice day, we left the buggy outside for some al-fresco zeds. Elmo came out from behind the sofa and came and sat by the door – guarding him. I know dogs and wolves display pack mentality, but what other explanation could there be for Elmo to choose that moment to come and sit by an open door with a baby on the other side? Despite all his previous behaviour to the contrary, he clearly feels part of our family, or pack, and his place within that pack is to protect the young ‘uns. Of course, the other interpretation of this scenario is that Elmo was eyeing up Sausage for his lunch, but bearing in mind he a) didn’t eat the baby and b) only once Sausage was back inside did he abandon his watch-post, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. I developed quite a soft spot for him that day.

My point is this – cats are (pretty much) wild animals, in that they are independent, territorial and need to be treated as such. Perhaps if the residents of Wingrave were a bit more tolerant and less vindictive, they’d find Oscar’s claws embedded in their skulls a lot less often.


Judge Ye Not

Readers!!  Hold me!  *rushes in, flings self onto sofa and sobs pitifully*

Something happened to me today, something unexpected and awful.  I’m deeply ashamed, and also quite confused.

The only way to purge my stained and blackened soul is to ‘fess up in full on this here blog.

Hot on the heels of Halloween, this tale is, fittingly, one about fear.

When I became a mother (I don’t know if this applies for fathers too, do tell), along with all the panic and fears of inadequacy, not to mention the realisation that the survival of this tiny person is ENTIRELY MY RESPONSIBILITY, and all the hormonal upheaval, comes a brand of fear more insidious and ubiquitous than them all; The Fear of Being Judged.

The fear of being judged (specifically; the fear of being judged as a bad mother for the choices you make for your child) is a total bastard.  It makes you behave like a loon.  In my case, for the first few months of Sausage’s life, I would refuse to show a photo (or put it on Facebook) if you could see Sausage’s bottle in it.  The reason?  I feared being judged for not breastfeeding.

Now.  Before having a baby, my stance on breastfeeding was this; I understood all the benefits of doing so, and would have that written down as my first choice of feeding method and definitely give it a good go.  BUT having also read quite a few reports of the distress caused to new mums for whom it didn’t work out, I promised that I would be kind to myself.   I figured I would probably have enough on my plate to deal with, so I wouldn’t beat myself up if it didn’t work out.  I was a formula-fed baby myself, and have absolutely no qualms or misgivings about it at all.

As it turned out, (to cut a gory story short) I nearly bled to death in childbirth, and this rendered me rather poorly for quite a while.  I tried to breastfeed for three days, before and after the blood transfusion, but I could barely string a sentence together, couldn’t even get out of bed and certainly wasn’t producing enough milk for a hungry new-born.  When we were (finally) offered some ready-made formula milk, my poor hungry baby stopped crying and guzzled his little chops off.  He was happy.  I was happy that he was happy.  As the weeks went by and I got stronger, I did start expressing milk for him, but it was still nowhere near enough to satisfy his huge appetite, so we topped up with formula milk.  I stuck to my promise to myself and have never, ever felt guilty, nor a failure, for feeding my baby formula milk.  Yet for a reason I cannot fathom, I didn’t want to admit it to the world at large.  Am I a hypocrite?  I worry I might be.

It’s not just me though – a friend of a friend describes her birth experience thus; “I had a home birth……..with a c-section”.  Excuse me?  What, if I may be so bold, the f&ck??!!  You had a home birth, right up until the part when you went to hospital?  You had a home birth, apart from the bit where you didn’t?!  By that rationale, I too had a home birth.  I was in labour, at home, for a good six or seven hours until my waters broke.  So, yeah, home birth – but I did nip to the hospital briefly, where a person popped out of my foof.  Seriously.  I suspect that the root cause of this bizarre birth-story lies once again in our friend Fear.  Fear that she doesn’t measure up as a mother due to medical intervention in what should be, we’re told, a totally natural process.  I would like to think she has a sound understanding of the definition of ‘birth’ given that she is a medical person, and not that she’s misunderstood where the actual birth bit started.  I feel sad that she clearly struggles to make peace with what happened – anyone who’s given birth knows, tear that birth plan up – from the second Jr. decides that today’s the day for an appearance, that’s it – we’re freestylin’.

So. On to my experience today.  Allow me to set the scene.  A kiddie play centre – bright coloured climbing frames, big spongy shapes, nets slung from every support and a gaudy jungle motif plastered on the walls.  Children giggle and adults chat softly.  My friends Kat (as discussed, *wink*), Emma and I and our assorted offspring are assembled.

A lady walks in and makes her way to one of the tables.  She is wearing a baby-sling, from which peeks a little pink hand.

Before I could stop and think, or get a grip of myself, my eyes had narrowed; my face darkened and hang on, what’s this rising?  Hackles, that’s what.  But why?

This lady, without knowing it, without even casting a glance in my direction, was judging me.  That’s right.  Judging.  Because she wears her baby and I didn’t.  She gets more mummy points than me because she has gaffer-taped her infant to her all-you-can-eat, ever-ready bosom, whereas I carried Sausage in my arms, or in his pram.  I could hear those vicious vibes emanating from her smug sling.  “This is how the ladies in Africa do it, of course”, they said, haughtily, “because they’re back working in the fields within days of giving birth”.  OK, so what do you need two free hands for at a play centre?  Two smiley face cakes?

“Best for baby, you know” they continued.  Aside from the fact that referring to my child as “baby’ and not “a baby” or “the baby”, as though ” baby” is his name makes me madder than a wet hen (it’s patronising and ick), I disagree that it would have been best for MY baby.  He hates being all wrapped up like that.  Every single time a midwife swaddled him in the hospital, he had busted a little baby arm free within minutes.  It’s not for him.  He doesn’t like it.

But there she was, all baby-wearing, in my face, up in my grill, actually………… nowhere near me……….OH MY GOD!!!…….

Hold the freakin phone!  Who exactly is doing the judging here?  By assuming she’s judging me, I was actually judging her!  I had gone from judge-ee to judger just like that *snaps fingers*  As you can imagine, I was quite discombobulated with this sudden about-face.  My fear of being judged had actually launched a pre-emptive strike and done a whole load of judging itself!  Stop!  Stop this judging see-saw of madness, I want to get off!

And why?  Why did her choice of baby carrying equipment offend me so much and make me feel so inferior?  WHY?  I was happy with all my childcare choices.  I made informed decisions and always put Sausage’s preferences first.  So why did I have to practically knee-cap myself to stop me rushing over to offer justifications for Sausage’s buggy?

Deep down though, are we not actually happy with our own choices?  Are we too susceptible to the notion that one way is better than another way?

We should be chanting this message from the rooftops– the way that makes you and your baby happy is the best way – not dissolving in a steaming turd of guilt and shame because we’re not adhering religiously to the current fashion.

Show me you forgive my odious judging ways and confide in me (my comments box) your fear-based shenanigans and let me know I’m not going stark staring mad ………



Now, I’m not a gambling woman.

But two years ago, on a crisp and bright November day at a racecourse in Doncaster, I pulled down the pants of every bookie foolish enough to take my money.  My strategy was bold, brave and radical; stride up to the stall, look the bookie straight in the eye and put a couple of quid on any horse I a) found the name amusing or poignant, or b) I liked the jockey’s racing blouse and c) anything that matched these criteria and also had odds longer than about 14-1.

Over the seven races, I turned £21 into the best part of a ton.  I also learnt that the quickest way to irritate the tote men is to declare your bets in horse names.  It really pisses them off!  The correct way to place your bet is in numbers – bet amount followed by horse number followed by win or each way.  But it was my first time, I was very excited and some of the horse names were so good I felt they deserved some airtime.

So I think I can be forgiven for assuming I had this ‘horse racing: the betting thereon’ business nailed.  I felt my fresh and philosophical method to bet-placing was pleasing the gambling gods such that I was being generously rewarded in beer tokens.

Again, then, to Doncaster.  My wallet bursting with readies, steely determination in my eyes and fire in my belly.  Another sunny (if rather chilly) day.  A sense of optimism and great things to come hung in the air as the Old Wing Crew scaled the steep concrete steps of the cheap seats once more.

Turns out, what the gambling gods giveth, the gambling gods taketh awayeth in equal measure.  My method is tried and tested; it works.  Therefore, there is but one conclusion we can draw – this time round, we had shit horses.

Yes, I blame the horses.  Damn you, horses!  What else could it be?

Half the losers I picked weren’t even trying.  I lost count of the times the favourite actually won, I mean, what the f*ck??!!  That’s not supposed to happen!  In one race, the horse I had picked decided to walk, and only meandered over the finish line once all the horses from that race had long been put away.

What’s in a name?  Let’s examine the evidence in my horse gallery of shame.  These were specifically picked for their names, and I’ve a good mind to put in a complaint to Trading Standards:

Ready: If there’s one thing I demand in a horse, a horse in race, it’s that he (or she) is READY.  READY!!  Ready to run.  Ready to win!  Ready to create a large stack of Ayrton Sennas in my wallet.  Sadly, it appears the only thing Ready was ready for was the Pritt Stick lorry.  Disappointing.

Sir Windsorlot:  He sounds like he wins a lot!  A wonderful play on words, he sounded posh, and confident.  All good horse qualities and a very positive advert of his racing prowess.  Alas, it turned out to be a joke at my expense, two pounds to be exact, when he flopped over the line dead last.  Livid!

Red Trump:  I imagined a horse with entrepreneurial ruthlessness, and quite possibly that the Trump element could also pertain to some extra propulsion system, like NOS for horses.  Nope.  Crapola.

Right Step:  Sadly, he also needed a decent left step.

Elegant in Silk:  I’d have been better off going for this one.  I changed my mind after my friends told me I’d misheard, and it wasn’t ‘Elephant in Silk’ after all, which I think is a magnificent name for any animal.  Instead I went for:

King Oliver, because he was big.  I went with the assumption that encased in his huge thighs and muscular physique was a racing powerhouse so devastating that the other horses might as well go home.  Sadly, it was more like Pat Butcher running for a bus.  He was later dubbed ‘***king Oliver’ when he heaved his heavy carcass over the line in last place.  ***king Oliver.  ***king horses.

Dashing David:  Should have just been called David.

Monsieur Chevalier:  He sounds like he knows what he’s doing, both sides of the saddle!  Sadly, I think his name must have caused confusion about who was the horse and who was on the horse, who was doing the running and who was doing the sitting – issues they really should have addressed and resolved before the starter pistol.

Quick Bite:  Maybe I missed the obvious hint that here was a horse who was more about eating and less about running.

It wasn’t all loss though.  I picked up a few ‘each way’-ers and recouped half my money.  We also had a roaring success on the last race, by pooling our resources and picking DUBIOUS ESCAPADE for a laugh.  We had the last laugh as well when he came in second!

It’s always a grand day out, and we had a really good time.  I clearly need to tweak my method though, and welcome any tips.  Here, in the spirit of sharing, are a few I picked up:

– Performing the William Tell Overture with gusto on your air-trumpet will not make your horse run any faster

– Neither will encouraging them by galloping along the spectator steps ‘gangnam style’

– Consulting the horse book bought at the start of the day (six pounds of betting money WASTED!! – I’m studying it in this pic) is a TOTAL WASTE OF TIME.  It gave some garbled information about the horse’s relatives, what it had for lunch and how firm it liked the course!  Was I supposed to go down and have a press?  I ask you!

A couple of the group broke even, and one even made a few quid but overall, the successes of two years ago were wiped out with a pretty poor performance this year.  We boarded the bus, dejected and beaten.  At the very next stop, about fifty 14-year-olds got on, all hoodies and Ugg Boots.  One cheeky imp who brushed past us was carrying a crate of beer!  Ah well, eight bottles between fifty of them, there’s not much scope for a bonkers binge-up, and we smiled as we fondly recalled our younger selves doing much the same.  As we began to choke on the musty smell of body odour unsuccessfully masked with Impulse Body Spray, we reflected that we were now very, very old.  Horse losers, and old.  Old horse losers.


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Names • band • band (Photo credit: origamidon)

It took us a ridiculously long time to figure out a name for our son. I’ve had my girl name picked out for years, and luckily, Pirate loves it too. Luckily for him, that is, as it’s non-negotiable. (No, I’m not telling you)

When we were told we were probably expecting a boy, it really did take a lot of soul-searching and fannying about to come up with his name. I was nearly eight months pregnant when we finally agreed on it. We were almost one of ‘thooooooooooose’ couples, *looks around beadily* you know the ones, “here’s our three week old baby, s/he doesn’t have a name yet, we’re still deciding” *shriek!* Calm down. We pulled it out of the bag in the nick of time.

Considering the hours spent agonising over his name, I can’t help but smile at the irony – we never use it. We deliberately gave him a name he could shorten, use his middle name (it’s not Windermere or Hooslefluff or other such silly nonsense) or just his initials and all would still be acceptable. But instead, in the ten and a half months he’s been with us, he is known by the following:

Cheesepaws (variations: Cheesy, Cheesy Mc Cheese, Cheesy Cheesetown, CP, Captain Queso, Monsieur Le Fromage – all get used as well) = he slightly damaged some nerves in his arm when he was born and as a result, kept his right fist tightly clenched for about four weeks. It eventually unfurled, and we were advised by the physiotherapist to do exercises and pass him toys to that hand etc. which we did, but during the weeks it was tucked up, he would suck on it after his milk and make it all milky. Because the palm never saw the light of day, and despite how much we washed it, it still went a bit…old milky…..cheesy, if you will. Hence: Cheesepaws.

Captain Piglet – a nod to his daddy’s job but mostly because he is a greedy guzzler.

Sausage and Saucisson – how this came to be a term of endearment I’m not altogether sure, but I love sausages, I love him; ergo, it works.

Stinker and Stinky pants – fairly self-explanatory

Dick van Pasta Shells – Sausage is a hoarder. He is always in possession of something, either squirreled away about his person, or tightly clenched in his little baby fists. When he crawls, his objects are bashed against the floor. When he has a plastic shape in one hand, and his old-chinese-takeaway-container-containing-uncooked-pasta-to-make-top-of-the-range-instrument box in the other, you can hear him coming from three rooms away – clack RATTLE! clack RATTLE! clack RATTLE! It sounds like a really really rubbish one man band has broken in to our house.

Smidgen – my sister calls him this. It makes my heart melt

Fidget Midget – constantly rummaging, squirming and thrashing about, refuses to sit on knees quietly like a civilised person. Father Christmas is gonna have a right old time of it

The Howler from my Growler – don’t look at me like that! I have never actually called him this, I offered it forward as a comedy name, once. In my defence, it’s factually correct, Sausage was born by natural delivery (if such a gory bloodbath can be described as ‘natural’ *shudder*), he does howl, and the way it rhymes pleases me. Instead of the cheap laugh I was angling for, I was met with horrified gasps, clutching of pearls and threats to call social services. Philistines.

Little Man – he’s a little man, innit

Sausage’s name for me: Dadda. I repeat “Mummy!” “Mummy!” to him in my best sing-song, mother-from-the-adverts voice, but he laughs in my face and replies “Dadda”. *sigh*




I’m often asked (if ‘often’ means ‘twice’) about how many celebrity bods I hobnobbed with aboard the planes when I was an air-hostess.  The answer is: a few.  Decide for yourselves if the list below entitles me to brag and name-drop as shamelessly as I have here.  I have categorised according to class of travel and airline for you to draw your own judgements.  I have also reviewed each celeb, as best I could. Some were most uncooperative when it came to having the meaningful interaction to which I believe I was entitled, what with them being famous and all, and therefore, public property to be accosted/harassed by me as and when the whim suits.

Virgin Atlantic:  Upper Class

Ricki Lake – I totally heart Ricki.  I watched her show every day after school for some years, and for me, she blazed the trail for all your Geraldos, Jeremy Kyles, Montels, Sallys, Trishas etc.  I care not that some of these others may actually pre-date Ricki, in my mind, she came first, and I never let the facts stand in the way of a good bout of hero-worship.  Hers was the first show of that type I encountered, and my frame of reference wins.  She was cute, feisty, smiley and always spoke such sense and reason (to my teenage mind, anyway).  She showed compassion, and she didn’t suffer fools.  I always knew that if we met in real life, we’d be bezzie mates.  I was 28 when I met Ricki on the plane.  What struck me immediately was that she is totally teeny tiny.  I mean, minuscule.  Height and width.  I always thought she looked quite cuddly on telly, but in the real she was a petit slim jim, and she was flawless.  Beautiful.  A dinky goddess.  She politely asked me if she could have an apple from the bar, and I said “of course!” and passed it over.  That’s right.  I have dined with Ricki Lake.  Afterwards she went back to her seat to tend to her son (or very small servant).  Love her.  Go Ricki!  Go Ricki!  Go Ricki!

Peter Andre – Asleep.  The entire time.  Selfish

Thom Yorke off of Radiohead – Asleep.  The entire time.  Selfish

Kelly Rowland off of Destiny’s Child and X Factor – Asleep.  The entire time.  Selfish

Kelly Brooke – Asleep, most of the time.  She remains entirely perfect and immaculately beautiful when she is asleep, unlike myself.  On the rare occasion I do manage to contort myself into a semi- comfortable position (often at the expense of my neighbours’ personal space) I am an open-mouthed, slightly decomposing hideous mess.  Flies take up a circuit round my head.  The smell of death fogs the general periphery.

Here I am, on a flight to Canada.  I’m not even sure which way round I am, or which part of the seat this is.  I know.  Calm down.  *fetches stick with which to start beating you all off*.  And anyway, she’s cheating, what with having a flat bed.  This is the reason Kelly Brooke is a model and I am not.  That’s the reason.

Akon – embarrassingly, I had to be told by a colleague it was he, as I had no idea.  *sigh* I used to be so down with the kids.

Russell Brand – he was on our manifest, but never actually materialised for the flight, to my huge disappointment.  I think he’s hilarious, his books are works of comedic genius.  His stand-up makes me roar with laughter.  A near miss, so it counts.  It does.  No, it does.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

Calum Best – I feel ashamed that I expected him to be a total pillock, when in fact, he was extremely polite, charming and very fit.

Danielle Lloyd – she gets a lot of stick (ahem!) poor lass, but on the flight she was very quiet and the couple of times I spoke to her, she was very polite and down-to-earth.

Virgin Atlantic Economy

Some twats from Big Brother – I know not, or care not, what their names were, I do not watch that drivel.  They were very full of themselves and I didn’t care for them one bit.

Thomson Airways

MC Harvey off of So Solid Crew – I didn’t recognise who he was at first, only that I thought he looked familiar and couldn’t put my finger on it.  I almost went up to him and brazenly asked “I know you, are you from Aylesbury?” but wisely decided to check the manifest first which confirmed his actual identity – of course!  He was a delight.  Friendly, funny, charming, chatted to me almost the entire way to Ibiza, and invited me to go out on the town with him when we got there (which he absolutely does not do to every girl he meets).  He was on my plane again about 3 weeks later, and as soon as he saw me, shouted “Elle!  I thought it was you!  So nice to see you again!”  Aw, shucks.  Had absolutely nothing to do with the fact I’d sorted him extra leg room seats 3 weeks ago, and he was hoping for the same again…….still, he remembered my name (yes we have name badges but he was miles away when he shouted it) and recognised me which for some reason I found endearing.  A good egg.

Tony Hadley off of Spandau Ballet – eighties music is not my thing.  It all sounds the same to me, ie limp-wristed, done on a crappy Casio keyboard with namby-pamby whiney vocals (exceptions: Roxette, U2, Madonna, GnR, Bon Jovi…….um, let’s start again) MOST eighties music is not my thing, and I really only know one SB song (yes, that one) so I was relatively underwhelmed by his presence (no offence, Tone)

I know, I know.  What a motley band of rag-tag urchins and has-beens!  Where are the real celebs?  (exempt: Ricki Lake)

I have put together a wish-list of celebs I want to ‘carry’, should I at some point in the future take to the skies once more, thus:

Celebrity Wish List

Dynamo – my friend met him on VA recently and had some photos done and everything.  I almost unfriended her in a jealous rage, but because she is fabulous, I could not.  He is spectacular and very very pretty.  I wouldn’t, but only because he looks like he might break.  Oh!  And, I’m married………..

Jack Whitehall – extremely talented in the ways of funny, and almost old enough to have an acceptable crush on

Theo Walcott and Joe Hart – now there’s a footballing spit-roast I could get on board with……but I wouldn’t, married etc

Matt Smith – my all-time favourite Dr Who.  I have a bit of a crush on him

Russell Brand – you can’t avoid me forever Russell!  I wouldn’t, though

Hmmm.  This list has turned into a bit of a perv-a-thon.  Let’s find some ladies…….

Lady Gaga – I would hope some of her awesomeness and talent would permeate the air so I could breathe it in and be a little bit awesome too.

Shappi Khorsandi – my favourite comedienne, she should be yours, too

Sandi Toksvig – clever, funny, interesting and wise.  Things I like in a person

Reese Witherspoon – to have a frank discussion about her playing me in Elle:  The Movie

Chantelle Houghton – aside from the fact we were almost name twins before I got married, I’m worried about her.  The pictures in the papers lately break my heart.  I want to give her a hug, and biscuits, and wine.  Also, being on my list means she would be on a plane, going somewhere nice on holiday

So tell me, indulge me, who would be on your list, and why?


The Sound of Silence (Baby Edit)

(to the original tune, politely ignoring any scanning issues…….)

Hello darkness, my old friend,

The baby’s woken me again,

Disturbed me when I was softly breathing,

He screams and wails because he is teething,

The ear piercing, blinding soundtrack to his pain

Still remains,

It’s been three hours…………since silence


Oh restless nights, there’ve been a few,

Distraught I don’t know what to do,

I try to coo and shush and rock and sing,

But an end to this they’ve yet to bring,

The Calpol, gel and powders don’t touch the sides,

Relief denied,

And so we pray…………for silence


As your mother it kills me,

So very heartbreaking to see,

I want to help you but I don’t know how,

I’d give my eyeballs to swap places now,

I’d chop arms and legs off, and do it all again,

To stop your pain,

Just for one night…………of silence


I was so smug when you were new,

For every night you would sleep through,

Eight blissful months of false security,

Have come to royally bite me,

And the whispered warnings, “just wait til those teeth grow”,

Well, now I know!

I mourn the nights……….of silence


Oh god I feel barely alive,

So hideously sleep deprived,

The days are headaches and I dread the nights,

While you’re busy growing pearly whites,

I surrender, Nature, I’ve fallen to my knees

To beg you please,

Restore the sound……….of silence.



I think you’ll all agree, I put the funk into Simon and Garfunkel.

The Essential Simon and Garfunkel

The Essential Simon and Garfunkel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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