Saturday, February 25, 2006

Clickety, Clack

I travelled back to Kent yesterday afternoon on the train. That was fun. His Lordship dropped me at the station with twenty minutes to go before my train was due to depart. So I headed off to the nearest food shop to get some 'nibbles' and then to the ticket office. I should have known, Friday afternoon in Leeds, students everywhere and queues halfway out of the building. So I quickly checked them out and seeing that they were all much the same length opted for the one nearest. Big mistake, happy Larry behind the counter was obviously on a go slow. Anyway fifteen minutes later and one missed train, I reached the counter.

"First class return to ****** in Kent please?" I asked politely.

He punched the buttons on his machine. "Where?" he grunted. So I spelled it out for him, it may as well have been Timbucktoo to him. "Returning when?"


"Eighty pounds."

"That's not first class is it?" I replied

At this point he looked up for the first time, eyeing me curiously, I suppose I didn't fit your usual stereotype of a first class passenger. There I was in my jeans, clutching my little plastic carrier bag of nibbles and a condensed version of three chicklit novels courtesy of Readers Digest. (By the way just so you know that is not my staple reading diet. But all of my books have been packed and so in desperation at having to watch yet another night of classic comedy re-runs that weren't that funny first time round and 'celebrity' challenge shows, I scanned Mrs Beeton's book shelves for salvation. It was that or a rather dusty Mills & Boon.)

Leaning forward furtively he asked, "Do you know how much a first class ticket will cost you?"

"Yes." I nodded.

"Are you sure?" He persisted.

It was at this point I noticed his supervisor had arrived and was gazing out past me into the ticket hall. I suddenly got the impression he was looking for someone. The responsible adult who should have been accompanying me perhaps! It's amazing what a flash of platinum plastic can do. Tickets bought, apologies grumbled and I was on my way.

Once on the train I decamped and absorbed myself once more in my book as we still had ten minutes before the train went. A few minutes later a young man appeared at the other end of the carriage, stuffing tickets into the slots on the top of the seats, mine included. So being an inquisitive bod I took a look. My seat it appeared had been reserved from Wakefield, the next stop.
Ok the vast majority of the time I am a reasonable person, I approach situations in a calm and measured manner. However there are certain times like this when, not having had a great deal of sleep and with PMS brewing I become a different beast, a submerged alligator ready to explode. In other words don't mess with me. They just had.

As I was collecting my assorted baggage I spied the steward heading my way. (Poor man.)

"Excuse me," I announced, "Can you tell me, am I invisible?"

He looked at me for a moment, I could hear the cogs whirring. "No madam."

I looked over at the suit who was occupying the seat opposite and asked him the same question. He shook his head, with the awful realisation that he had acquired the nutcase for this particular journey.

The steward stepped in once more, "Will that be everything madam, or can I assist you with anything else?"

Sadly for him, he had just put his toe in the water. After a rant that lasted a mere couple of minutes, (I was too tired for a full blown tantrum), but must have seemed like an eternity for him, he scooped up my assorted baggage and escorted me to another seat... in another carriage. (I'm sure much to the relief of the suit opposite.) This carriage was virtually empty, madam could choose any seat she liked. Tea was brought and my journey continued. interupted only by the customer service announcements:

"Ladies & gentlemen, as I'm sure you can see the train is very busy today and there are folk with bags on seats. If you are one of them folk, please put your bag on the overhead shelf. However if you would prefer not to do this, my colleagues will be happy to assist you in purchasing a standard ticket so that your bag can travel in style. Thank you, have a pleasant journey." Classic!

You just can't get the staff..

Yes I know the picture in the last but one post has gone. It was me, I was doing a bit of spring cleaning and deleted it by mistake. Sorry. It was only a pic of a dusty old professor, nothing to get excited about.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Here, There and Everywhere.

Have you missed me? Well I'm still here, well actually there, (I'm back in Yorkshire), or is it here. Oh that's getting terribly Zen. I've got internet access up and running back at the Fat Controllers place. Not his, that one has well and truly bitten the dust. No his Lordship is letting me play with his laptop. Mrs Beeton is on form, she was beside herself when she discovered what I was doing. It's ok, she just wanted to watch Eastenders!! For those of you who don't know what the heck I'm talking about, read Mrs Beeton's Pickle, you'll find it in the pick & mix, or under the counter. I could put the link in but this isn't broadband and quite frankly I'm not prepared to get any older waiting for this stuff to load.

Monday, February 20, 2006

If I Close My Eyes it's not there...

British historian David Irving has been jailed for three years after admitting a charge of denying the Holocaust.

Irving insisted during his one-day hearing in the Austrian capital Vienna that he had a change of heart and now acknowledged the Nazis' Second World War slaughter of six million Jews.

Mm, well denying that Father Christmas exists, (which of course he does), is one thing, but denying mass genocide, not really in the same league. What did he think they did with them, just misplaced them, abit like the car keys. He obviously gave his 'carers' the slip that day.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Table Manners.

We have another company do coming up. You'll forgive me if I don't sound too excited. You see I am something of a legend in the company, (the company in question is the very large international company that his Lordship works for).

The legend was born 9 years ago at another 'do'. Shortly after we moved to Kent, it was a rosy time and as with most things I was just having a bit of fun. It was towards the end of the evening, (well actually it was just before dawn), when some bright herbert decided to set up a challenge. The challenge in question involved going around a table, yes I know that sounds simple, but you actually start on top of the table and have to pass under it without touching the floor or letting go and get back onto the top of the table to finish, (now that's more like it).

Ok so you've guessed it. After watching several chaps of varying proportions attempt it and fail, the only successful candidate was of course the bright young herbert who had suggested it. Scanning the room for his Lordship he was no where to be seen, so with the family honour at stake, and I have to say being rather more pickled than I should have been, I rose to the challenge.

Now it is at this point I should perhaps mention that in hindsight I may not have been wearing the most appropriate clothing. Even if I do say so myself, I did cut a bit of a dash on the dance floor in my chic little cocktail dress and cubans. However when attempting to straddle a table, especially when you are a mere 5' 2", people may have got slightly more than they bargained for!

That said, with an Olympian effort and a gallant gentleman covering my blushes with his jacket, I did it. To much applause and possibly the chagrin of some of the less successful chaps I made my exit and went to bed. It had been a memorable night... or so I am told, repeatedly, in fact at every event since.

And so that is why I am not completely at ease about the up coming 'do'. I just know that the legend will at some point in the proceedings be recounted much to the amusement of all concerned. So I have decided that from now on I am going to approach this with a rather more seasoned view. When the next person asks are you the lady who is legendary in the table event, being the demure lady that I am, I will smile sweetly and reply;

"It wasn't me. You must have mistaken me for my twin sister."

Agent Starling eat your heart out.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Little Pearls of Wisdom

When you are a parent you start to develop certain skills. Some of them are really useful, like how make a space shuttle out of a washing up bottle, toilet rolls, and milk bottle tops, or how to make a bunny out of a handkerchief then make it run up your arm. How to speak fluent teletubbie, even at work!

There are also the pearls of wisdom we impart to them as they're growing up.

a) Don't stick your fingers in plug sockets, it makes your hair frizzy and then it's a bugger to style.
b) Always make sure you're wearing clean underwear when you go out. You may get hit by a bus. (Mm that's ok if you don't see it coming. I have to be honest if I saw a bus heading towards me, well I don't think I'm alone on that one..)
c) Girls, only shave the bottom half of your legs on a first date. It's better than a chastity belt!
d) Boys, a quick tickle with a damp flannel doesn't cut it. Pheromones are not the same as B.O.
e) It's never a good idea to boost the contents of your bra with socks, especially if your dad was wearing them the day before.
f) The first time you sneak off to get drunk don't drink Creme de Menthe or the antifreeze lookilike alchopop. The vomit stains are virtually impossible to get off the carpet.
g) And finally, when you're 19 years old and about to tell your mother she's going to be a grandma, don't start the conversation off with, "Mum, you'll look back on this one day and laugh."

(Ok so maybe my son was right on the last one).

Friday, February 17, 2006

Close Encounters.

It's all getting incredibly confusing. I woke up this morning and leaned over to switch off the alarm only to find I'd walloped his Lordship in the face. Sitting up I realised I was in Kent. After spending the last two days in Yorkshire again I don't know whether I'm on this earth or Fullers or indeed which side of the bed I'm on.

Whilst I was up there I had to call into the letting agents to pay the holding deposit on the new house. I walked in yesterday morning and was greeted by Agent Starling, the chap who had shown us around the property and with whom I've had several telephone conversations. Whether it was down to my last encounter with him,(What's the Score), or just that I am totally unmemorable I don't know, but he was completely blank when I introduced myself and explained the purpose of my visit. I suppose that is ok, after all it had been a full 12 hours since we last spoke. (After a while you develop a sixth sense about such things and this was one of those occasions, I realised I had just entered the twilight zone.)

"We spoke on the phone yesterday," I thought at least he would remember that.

"No, you didn't speak to me." he replied.

"Yes, it was you, don't you remember, you answered the phone with hello Agent Starling,"

"It wasn't me."

Ok I wasn't getting anywhere time to change tack.

"You showed us around the property last Friday" I offered hopefully.

"I did?"


"It wasn't me."

"Sorry I must have mistaken you for your twin brother."

I smiled through gritted teeth. Silence fell for a few moments. A faint glimmer of a smile came across his face, at last the penny was about to drop.

"I don't have a twin brother. Not to worry madam, how can I help."

I resisted the temptation to tell him. So if you were in Wakefield town centre yesterday morning and witnessed the strange scene of a demented woman banging her head on the pavement outside letting agency, I apologise.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Who Let the Dogs Out

Letting agents really are the boils on the bottom of humanity. I spoke to the agent for the cottage we saw over the weekend to tell him that we would like to take it. No problem just a few forms to complete and the £100 holding deposit... plus £50 each for us to do credit checks on both of you. I then explained that as this is a company relocation they are paying the rent etc. Kerching, no problem that will be another £100 to run a credit check on them too. So I pointed out that as they are paying and not us, they don't need to do the credit checks on his Lordship and me. Silly woman, of course they do. So that's £300 non refundable in cash. But let me add that they have also charged the Landlord £200 for the same thing. Kerching, £500 for work that involves a couple of telephone calls and someone showing us around the property for half an hour. Now I understand why they weren't interested when I called before. They can leech a very nice living off the few they do manage to hook. Could somebody pass me a lancet, preferably blunt, I'm going in.

It's ok, I've run out of steam, all is calm again. Well almost, only the pitiful moans of the dogs who it would appear are half starving, due to the fact that it's 45 minutes past their breakfast time. I'm a cruel, cruel woman. They have already been on a forced march in the pouring rain, and then as we pass the stinkiest pond in the wood, they have to jump in and submerge themselves in the dark inky depths of the decaying leaves and rotting pondlife, only to have to suffer the indignity of a mile walk home smelling like a compost heap. Then to add insult to injury she who must, (occasionally), be obeyed, hasn't got the towels out so they have to make do with drying themselves on the lounge carpet before collapsing in a steaming heap in front of the fire. And the aroma of wet dog blended with a dash of murky pond wafts throughout the house once more.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hairdressers and Snowboarding

Some nice little respite in my otherwise hectic world at the moment. I went to the hairdressers this morning, I like it there, it won salon of the year recently, (get me!!). I can just sit and relax, drink tea and chat about the rugby or Top Gear. No girly stuff here, my hairdresser is a man and I don't know whether it's for my benefit but he likes to be very much a 'bloke', he hasn't offered me anything for the weekend to date though! (Hmm, just a thought but I wonder if he talks to all of his female clients about such things. Maybe it's time to get my lip waxed again.)

Her Ladyship, (my daughter), is watching the winter olympics on the telly, it's the womens half pipe snowboarding, (not half pint as I previously thought, much to everyones amusment). She gets very involved, she's currently shouting at the judges to put their glasses on.

... I was just summoned away to watch the final three doing their stuff, Hannah Teter won. Actually I think half pint is the better description, they're all so small ,bless them, they don't seem to be able to get any clothes that fit.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What's the Score.

Eureka! I think we've found a house. They don't mind the dogs, they have one of their own and they don't mind children, they have two of their own. They did offer to include theirs in the rent. After much consideration, (30 seconds to be exact), his Lordship and I declined. Mainly on the grounds that there wasn't sufficient cupboard space to store them all.

The nice chap from the letting agency took a shine to me, he wanted to tell me all about the cattery that he and his wife ran in the late 1980s. Now I don't mind talking to anyone, it passes the time of day, but when you're trying to earwig on the conversation your husband is having with the sultry Italian lady owner of the property it is a bit distracting. After several attempts to politely change the subject, I opted for the full frontal attack.

"Do you like cats then?" he enquired.

"Yes, I think they're lovely, especially with a nice Chianti and some Faver beans!"

Conversation over, I proceeded to intercept his Lordship and the Italian lady owner. As I thought, on closer inspection they were discussing the TV reception, and if there was sky at the property. He even managed to get her to give him a demonstration of which TV channels were available. It was the latest rugby results he was really interested in. He's such a charmer.

Friday, February 10, 2006

One - Nil

Relief, Mrs Beeton's little problem with the telephone has been resolved. (See post below.) The telephone is now working perfectly so the BT engineer has been cancelled, phew. It would appear that this is all down to a minor mishap on the part of the Fat Controller, who deleted the password on his internet connection and typed in a completely new one! No I am as wise about why he did this as you are. Unfortunately no one knows what the real password should be, so the phone will be working for the forseeable future. Internet 1 - Fat Controller 0.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Mrs Beeton's Pickle

We are back on the road tonight. This time we will be staying with the Fat Controller and Mrs Beeton, aka his Lordships' parents. Both in their eighties and a bit set in their ways, they are something of an institution. During our journey there will be the umpteen calls to check on our progress and also to see if we would like a ham sandwich when we arrive, (which, in the 28years they have known me is an offer I have never taken up, but then you do have to admire their persistence).

Like many people of their age they do on occasions struggle with 'new technology', they have freeview, a Christmas present from the one before last, however it doesn't appear to be working, we still only get the delights of BBC1, 2 and ITV1, apparently Channel 4 is full of rubbish and Channel 5 never made it that far.

Then there is the latest saga of the laptop, kindly given to the Fat Controller by his Lordships sister. It has internet access, but only dial up, so we explained that they can't use their phone whilst on the internet. Unfortunately Mrs Beeton hasn't quite figured this whole thing out yet, which, is not surprising as she is still trying to get to grips with the TV remote. (Mind you nobody gets to grips with the remote while the Fat Controller is around.)

After several conversations re; the use of the washing machine, hoover and microwave whilst the Fat Controller is on the internet, I thought I had got the message across, it's only the phone you can't use. Then the phone call yesterday afternoon.

"Hello it's only me, (Mrs Beeton), just checking the phone is working, we're having a problem with it."

"Oh what sort of problem?" I enquired.

"Well it's working sometimes and then others it isn't, it keeps making funny noises when I try to phone someone, but don't worry, I've called BT and they are sending an engineer out on Friday."

Oh good. I just hope he has a sense of humour.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Following On...

Oh please shoot me now. Following on from this mornings post. I have managed to speak to three agents so far. The first one said that they might have one property that matched my criteria. However when I mentioned the D word, (Doggies), she made a hasty retreat. The second just laughed at me. And the third offered me a room in a shared house, or was that a psychiatric unit. If you smoke, have pets or children then forget about renting. So as a dog owning grandmother of two who enjoys a cigarette I am a pariah.

Never mind, look on the bright side, we still have an old tent in the attic!

Hello...This is Earth Calling.

The joys of dealing with estate agents. You'd think that finding somewhere to rent would be easy enough wouldn't you. Call me naive but I thought you would pick up the phone and just tell someone what you are looking for and then they would tell if they have it or not. Preferably, if not, then they would try to help you find it.

Wrong. The first call I made was answered by a very nice lady, who suggested that I look on their website, if anything appealed then I could call them and make an appointment to view. Simple I thought, after an eternity for their website to load, the search facility wasn't working and that's the only way to access their list of properties. Ok onto the next agent. No answer. The next, slight improvement, this one had an answer machine, and so it went on, either an answer machine, 'could we direct you to our website', or just no response.

No one actually wanted to talk to me. But what on earth are they all doing to be so busy that they can't talk to a potential customer? They are not updating their websites, half of those I visited were out of date, and the other half couldn't tell their a**e from their elbow, when you type Yorkshire into a search field call me picky but you don't expect to get Blackburn, Oldham or Durham. They are not on the telephone with customers, I'm one, and they are definitely not busy picking up their messages. I left at least half a dozen yesterday morning and not one has phoned back.

So here I am again about to embark on another morning of trawling and calling, after pretty much losing the will to live yesterday, I don't hold out much hope for today. Has there been some kind of plague that nobody told me about, or maybe it's triffids... Hello, this is earth calling is there anybody out there?

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Packing Fairy Pays a Visit.

We arrived home late yesterday evening, not a bad journey. So there I was sitting down to unwind with a nice glass of wine when I noticed the 'packing fairy' had visited again, actually this one was the 'unpacking fairy'. (Following on from Mi Casa Su Casa). I've now got some additions to 'my' film library, The A Team, a full Indiana Jones set, Men in Black, oh and a couple of familiar titles. I wondered where they'd gone.

It was at this point that my daughter realised that I had noticed and thought she had better spill the beans. Or to put it another way, grass on her brother. I'll give her, her due, she had actually mentioned on the phone the other day that he had brought me some more boxes round. She had however omitted the bit about them being full when he arrived. She also mentioned the bathroom set he'd put in the attic and oh yes, how do you turn off the ceiling fan in our bedroom. Bless, apparently he was just checking to see if it's working. You'll be pleased to know it works fine, and has been doing the entire time we were away in Yorkshire.

I wonder who'll visit next week while we're away, the decorating fairy, (my study has been reassigned as grandchild #2s nursery). Will I be relegated to the hall cupboard? Pushed out by Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Why can't it ever be the cleaning fairy or the gardening fairy?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Still Here

We're heading back to the South East today. I didn't get to take Dad for his drive in the Dales. He didn't fancy it, hopefully as it starts to warm up a bit we'll be able to go. I really miss getting out there. So no nice pictures unfortunately this trip.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The White Rose Beckons

I have just arrived back in Yorkshire, it was a grand journey, we noted the usual landmarks on the way up, Trumpington Park and Ride just of the A14, the pig farm with the 'bandstand' in the middle of the stys, at the side of the A1, Honey Pot Lane business park to name a few. Sad I know but I always have to 'tick' them off the list as we drive. Then finally the South Yorkshire sign on the A1, which means we're home.

As I'll be busy house hunting the posts may be a bit patchy this weekend. And of course I'll have to find time to take my Dad for a drive in his beloved Dales. Hopefully there'll be some nice pictures on Monday.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Nosey Parkers.

What is it with men and their obsession for picking their noses in the car?

Yesterday whilst I was waiting to get onto a roundabout, I spotted three men in their cars all having a good 'clear out'. His Lordship is as guilty as the rest and he doesn't reserve it for solo trips either. Manys a time I've caught him out of my eye corner when we've been stopped in traffic. They don't make any attempt to be subtle about it either. It's almost like, oh the car has stopped, wumph, finger up the nose. His Lordship assures me that this is their form of multitasking and it's something to do with the complexities of the male brain v the female brain.

Well I've got news for you gentlemen, there's nothing complex about it.

a) It's not big and it's not clever, didn't your mother ever tell you about getting stuck up there and the very real danger of your head collapsing!

b) It most certainly isn't attractive, especially if you've just been engaged in the act before attempting to flirt with the woman in the next car. Trust me she noticed you first.

c) And lastly, make sure you use a hanky for your deposits, not your socks, the sides of your trousers or anywhere else within striking distance. No, 'snail trails' are not a fashion accessory.
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