Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Life on the Mean Streets - Shooters.

Remember a couple of posts back when I mentioned that I wasn't allowed to let anyone into the lift at work.. in case they had a gun, were a mad rapist or whatever?

WELL... today the gunmen turned up! But it's ok I didn't let them in the lift I kept tight hold of my trusty swipe card, armed and sightly miffable if cornered. In fact it all took place out on the street. No staff involved, just the morally challenged, sorting things out in their own way.

Arguments in reception are a regular occurance, sometimes they even get their handbags out, (punch ups to my friends across the pond). But this is an entirely different league. Oh well another day another crust!!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Estate Agent - A Different Language.

As some of you will know his Lordship and I are again house hunting. This time for our permanent abode. So far we have searched over Dale and down valley for this elusive beast. The beast in question is by nature quite secretive and solitary, occasionally found in small groups. Unlike the city dwelling type, which likes to congregate in large herds and enjoys proximity with it's neighbours.

Now you can call me picky, but I prefer to have a little space to myself, I can't honestly get on with this whole estate living thing. We spent last weekend looking at new build homes, we thought in the interests of fairness that we would give them a go. So armed with brochures, maps, wellies and umbrellas, this is England remember and it was raining, we set off. The brochures have lovely pictures of each of the house styles, plus little maps of the siteplans. They wax lyrical about the 'lifestyle', the quality, the furnishings, etc. What they all forget to mention is that although you may fall in love with one of their houses, you most certainly will not fall in love with the garden, or should I say lack of one. And you had better hope that you love your neighbours, believe me you'll get to know them pretty well. Not one of the houses we saw had any garden to speak of. In all fairness I do have to say that some of the houses we saw were lovely and very spacious. But why the hell build a large family home and then give it fifteen feet of garden?

So fairplay over, we gave it a look and decided it is not for us. Now we are back on the trail. However we are now armed with the Estate Agents dictionary;

Neat gardens - don't turn around with your arms ourstretched, you'll scrape your knuckles on the fence.

Neat enclosed rear garden - it is completely overlooked by the neighbouring houses or the neighbours have planted a nice conifer hedge which is now twenty feet high. Scraped knuckles and absolutely no privacy,

Low maintainance garden - it's a back yard completely concreted.

Deceptively spacious accomodation - deception is the correct term. It's so deceptive it's completely hidden.

Characterful - the present owners have done their own house 'make over', look out for country cottage meets victorian gothic with plenty of personal little touches, ahh!

Cottage retaining period features, but updated with a contemporary twist - they've ripped the heart out of the place painted it white, put in a belfast sink and hey presto... boring.

Far reaching views - of the derelict pub, the chippy, or you have to lean out of the bedroom window and twist round the corner of the neighbouring house so that you can see the old gasworks.

Rarely does a property of this nature come onto the market - that's because it would usually have a sign outside with the word 'condemned' on it.

Security System - They've put an extra bolt on the back door.

Quiet Aspect - it faces the cemetary.

Friendly Neighbours - they're into wifeswapping.

Split level garden sweeping down to the river - the garden is actually falling into the river, but it's ok, in five years time you'll have the same fifteen feet that everyone else has.

Occasional water feature - the garden is subject to flooding when it rains hard.

And my personal favourite:

May require some minor cosmetic work -

The Sunday Trumpet.

Here is this weeks offering a wonderful review of An American Haunting by Tera. A really dire 'scary' film starring Donald Sutherland. Enjoy.

Yes I know that my Sunday Trumpet posts are always on a Monday, but that's because most of the trumpeters are on the other side of the pond, which means that they tend to post after my bedtime!

If you would like to join the Gasbags and write your own review of a film, TV programme, book, etc that really stinks then follow this link.

If you would like to catch up on previous reviews then go here.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Me and Urn!

The Fat Controller has finally been collected. For those of you who have no idea what on earth I'm talking about, read this post. If you want to know who I'm talking about read this post. Now I have to warn those of you with a sensitive nature that this post may not be to your liking, however this is 'life' so get on with it. Yes I am a saint but that doesn't stop me from being a little irreverent, sometimes you have to give life a poke in the eye.

Mrs Beeton, (my mother in law), has not been coping too well since the Fat Controller departed. Not well at all. Understandable in the main as they were together for seventy years. Still it is hard to deal with an eighty five year old juvenile at times. Especially as she is hell bent on carrying on without the slightest acknowledgement that anyone other than herself has recently been bereaved.

Throughout their marriage and particularly in the later years the Fat Controller took charge of the finances, decisions and just about anything that carried any responsibility. Mrs Beeton on the other hand took care of the shopping list and cooking. However shopping was a joint affair as she never left the house without the Fat Controller, never!! She was completely dependent on him, she doesn't drive, she never had to make any decisions other than where to do the shopping or what to wear each day. The full extent of her dependence has only come to light in the aftermath of the Fat Controllers demise.

Caring for Mrs Beeton has, it has to be said, been a strain. She has substituted his Lordship and I for the Fat Controller. She refuses to make any decisions whatsoever, if pressed she simply looks the other way and changes the subject. I am the chauffeur, appointment maker, shopping companion and general dogsbody. His Lordship now commands the finances and official matters, that's because he's a man, and no he and I did not choose these roles, they have been bestowed by Mrs Beeton. Myself and the other family members are not permitted to take care of anything arriving in a brown envelope. We tried, when his Lordship was working away for a week, but she started to hide the mail only to produce it on his return. He has now resigned himself to this duty.

And so I return to my original statement, the Fat Controller has finally been collected. After much digressing. It has been almost three months, three months that he has been sitting on a shelf, I assume, at the funeral directors' waiting patiently for someone to collect him. The hold up has of course been Mrs Beeton, another decision discarded and blanked. Sorry I forgot to point out that it is his ashes that I am talking about, 'he' hasn't been sitting on a shelf for three months... ugh!! So taking matters into my own hands I decided it was time to go and get him.

With no direction from Mrs Beeton I decided the best thing would be to bring him back to our house and take it from there. Just one slight concern however, I wasn't sure how he would be 'packaged'. Ok so I don't have a great deal of experience in these matters. You see when the subject was raised whilst arranging the funeral, Mrs Beeton went into hysterics at the mention of ashes, urns etc, so the subject was put on hold... indefinitely. So it was with some trepidation that I arranged to have him dropped off at the Captain's house. Whilst waiting for him to arrive, my sister, the Captain and I were discussing the 'packaging' options. Wooden box! Plastic bag! I didn't fancy the idea of a plastic bag, but the Captain helpfully suggested tuppaware if that were the case. However on reflection we all agreed that it might not be the best solution. What with moves afoot soon and all the packing/unpacking confusion I may loose track of him, which could result in him being served up in a cake if he ends up in the wrong cupboard!

Our meanderings of the mind were cut short when the door bell rang. Standing on the doorstep 'hugging' the Fat Controller was the funeral director, he wouldn't have minded as the funeral director is actually a very nice young woman, and I was immediately relieved to note that he was not in a jiffy bag, or shrink wrapped. He was in a sturdy green plastic tub contained in a very nice purple velvet bag. Phew. The nice young funeral director carefully held onto him as she explained the options we had for what to do with him next.

"You could store him until Mrs Beeton is ready to join him,"
Hmm, a matching pair for the mantelpiece, I like symmetry.

"You can scatter him somewhere he liked, but you must get permission from the land owner first," I'm not sure that Morrisons supermarket would be too taken with us scattering him up the b.o.g.o.f.f. aisle.

"You can have him interred in a family burial plot, you'll need permission again and a certificate from the crematorium."
I discovered that's to prevent someone from burying naughty substances etc for later use. I don't think anyone would get very high snorting the Fat Controller though. Having once had a faceful of my friends late husband, it was a windy day but that's another story, it didn't do anything for me.

"You can of course bury him in your own garden, but if you move and someone else is living there it could be a bit disconcerting if they discover him in among the roses."
I'll say.

"One suggestion that a lot of people seem to like to do is to bury them in a large plant pot. Then you can take them with you wherever you go. Put a nice plant on top."
That sounds great, shove him in a nice big ornamental urn and plant him up with some nice crysanthes, or herbs, actually maybe not the herbs. When the time comes we could have a matching pair, one either side of the door!

Until that time however, as Mrs Beeton is not ready to make any decision on his future and she is definitely not ready to join him just yet, I will have to find an alternative to the above. So far he has made a wonderful hat stand, been used as added weight when gluing a drawer front back onto the drawer, weighted down the bin lid to stop the dogs rummaging and he makes a damn fine door stop to boot.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Life on the Mean Streets. + Addendum

I started my new job today. It was fun. I arrived at the allotted time and was sent up to the office of my new line manager. She's very nice and so we had a little chat by way of introduction and induction rolled into one. I have to say that it was the shortest induction I've ever had, they certainly expect you to hit the ground running. Everything was going well until she started to talk about security...

"I'll get you issued with a swipe card so that you can access the lift and the gate at the bottom of the stairs," she said, "you'll get your photo id by the end of the week."

"Ok" I nodded.

"Now there are a couple of little things for you to remember. If someone should try to get into the lift with you, make sure they are wearing a photo id. If not politely explain that you can't let them in as you don't know them."

I nodded.

"It's very important that you don't allow anyone unauthorised anywhere in the building other than the reception area. That's their area. I mean you don't want to find yourself in the lift with a rapist or someone pulling a gun on you."

"WHAT"? The colour was quickly draining from my face as I stammered, "nobody mentioned guns, no I'd remember if they had mentioned guns, and rapists, I mean I think I would have made a mental note of rapist," I was beginning to ramble.

"Well dear, you are working with... shall I say the 'underclass' of society, these people don't think twice about carrying guns and knives, and they don't think twice about using them."

"Yes, yes I know, but why on earth don't you employ security guards, what's wrong with a couple of meaty blokes on the door checking that no one is carrying anything they shouldn't? It sounds perfectly reasonable to me." I was definitely rambling.

"Oh no, no dear," she replied shaking her head, "we need to make them feel 'safe', they need to know that they are welcomed here." She said earnestly. For heaven's sake, she actually meant it!

"Right," I mumbled. "I understand, I'll smile respectfully and make them feel welcome."

"That's the ticket dear, I'm glad you understand." She beamed

Too flaming right I understand, these people can terrorise society, live outside the normal constraints and morals, but still we have to respect their right to be treated in the same way that any 'regular' member of society would want to be treated. Never mind that they don't understand or wish to comply with the usual 'rules'. But of course I do have to remember that I should be safe in the knowledge that I am armed in the face of guns, knives, and other offensive weapons, not to mention rapists and child molesters... I am of course armed with my trusty swipe card. No need for my black belt in judo then, phew!!

23rd May - Addendum

Today I had to complete my emergency contact details.

Ques 4. Is there anything else that you wish to be taken into account should you become ill, have an accident or be taken hostage whilst at work?

Yes... I would like a change of underwear a.s.a.p. should I be taken hostage!!!!

I bet you want to know what the heck my new job is now don't you. Sorry I'm honestly not allowed to tell. Nor will I be talking about specifics of events / clients. However, work colleagues might be another matter ;o)

Sophia's Trumpeting about Madonna!

It's the turn of our friend Sophia to blow her trumpet this week. Check out her wonderful review of Madonna's latest album. I have to be honest I'm not a huge fan, of Madonna that is, I am a huge fan of Sophia. Her analysis of the lyrics is so funny.

Why don't you blow your trumpet about some dismal book, film, music, TV that has really 'missed' the spot. If you fancy becoming a Gasbag then sign up here, we'd love to hear from you.

For previous reviews check them out here.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

House Hunting.

We are going house hunting today. I've packed the old shotgun and binoculars. I'll let you know if we manage to bag any.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Thank You Kim.

The day before yesterday I merrily clicked my little icon for my blog. I sat and waited as it loaded. Only it didn't. I was looking at a blank white screen. Ok I thought, it's just a gliche. No such luck. After several attempts to load it I checked my stat meter, no one was visiting. Horror hit me. I hadn't a clue what to do.

Then I checked my emails. And there it was, a miracle, I am allowed to talk in terms of miracles, I'm a Saint, this particular miracle came in the guise of Kim Ayres. He'd noticed that I was missing and emailed me to see what the problem was. He even had an answer to my problem. It worked.

So I owe a huge thank you to my friend Kim for being so patient and helping me out. I really could not have sorted this problem out by my self. I am a novice when it comes to such things.

Please bear with me as I am still tweeking and all my former links will be re-instated as soon as possible. Thank you to those of you who took the time to email, me I appreciate your concern.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New Blogs.

I just thought I would give the heads up to some new blogs I am reading and thought you might like to investigate yourselves. The first is another Yorkshire blogger called 'The Birdman'. The other two are 'newbies', they are The Pure Collector, and Widescreenboy. So if you have a bit of spare time why not drop by, have a read and say hello.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother & Child - Addendum.

Let Me Keep My Baby: Pregnant 12-Year-Old

A young girl of 12 is about to have a baby. Social Services are concerned and have explained that she may not be able to leave hospital with the baby. It would appear from the report that this is not because they are concerned over her ability, but it is because she shares a house with her mother and five brothers and sisters and they feel it is too small. Alongside of this the house does not meet their requirements decoratively. Yes, apparently it needs re-decorating.

Now maybe I am missing something and of course we only have this particular journalists slant on this story, but there are a couple of issues that concern me here.

There is already a single mother with six children living in this house. One of which is about to become Britains youngest mother. I would be more concerned about the parenting abilities in this home rather than the decor. By that I mean my concern lies with a mother who is raising six children on her own, clearly it's a struggle, but obviously not so much that she is willing to turn her back on her daughter and grandchild. Given that this young mother so desperately wants to keep her baby, yes I appreciate that she is barely past the playing with dolls stage, and her mother is willing to take it on as well, then why aren't social services providing support to this family. Instead of worrying about the size of the house and the decor, what about finding a suitable alternative or trying to remedy the immediate situation. What about parenting skills training and support in this area.

I am sure that there will be others out there with a different view, but I just feel that in this day and age it is wrong to take a baby from a home where although not perfect by any means has people who want to take care of it and love it.

"The news that the youngster is to become the UK's youngest mum sparked outrage yesterday from the Catholic Church."

Who the hell keeps asking the 'Catholic Church' to comment on everything. Shut up, grow up and start acting like you belong in the 21st Century rather than wittering on and condemning everything in your path. Try using some of that compassion you're always spouting we should have, by we read mere mortals, and maybe even a bit of that cash mountain you have stashed to help them out. Outrage does not solve this problem. Access to birth control and better understanding of social issues within certain communities does.

Yes I am advocating giving access to birth control to underage young people, this of course already happens, but they have to know how to access it. No I am not advocating in any way shape or form that underage sex is a good idea or ok, however I have been on this planet long enough to understand that there are no simple remedies to this situation. This is not just a problem of the twentieth or twenty first centuries, it is as perenial as the seasons. Better sex education has had no effect, withdrawing sex education to the younger age range only compounded the situation. Perhaps 'moral' education is the way to go, I honestly don't know and my concern with 'moral' education is precisely whose morals will be the standard and how far would it go. I don't have all of the answers to this one, no-one person does, but it is such a difficult subject to raise and discuss rationally without emotions and morals clouding the issue.

Sorry my sincere apologies to any mere mortals of the Catholic persuasion, my argument is not with you, I just feel the fat men in dresses living in their Italian ivory tower are wasting everyone's oxygen and my time.

The old halo has definitely taken a fall this time.


Addendum: Wednesday 17th May

There are a couple of other points however that I should now make and avail you with the reported 'facts'.
1. The girl's mother is a heroin addict.
2. The girl has cut down her smoking from 30 roll ups a day to 20. She started at age nine.
3. She got pregnant as as the result of a one night stand whilst drunk. She said 'it was my first time, I didn't know you could get pregnant the first time'. Famous last words, how many times have we heard this.

4. The 'father' aged fifteen years, is reportedly being charged with statutory rape. The law has changed here. Men can be charged for rape if a woman is considered too drunk to know what she is doing, even if she says yes to sex!!
5. The family live in a very small council flat.

What is your view now?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thank You Gentlemen.


Those nice gentlemen from Drains Aid, they contract for Yorkshire Water, were here before we were even out of bed this morning, and bless them they were trying to tip toe around so that they wouldn't wake us. They were brilliant and everything was sorted by early afternoon. Smelling all wonderful and Pine fresh and they didn't just put the garden back as it was, it's even better.

So my heartfelt thanks to you gentlemen, you really have done a great job, not just in restoring my drains to working order, or my garden back to a beautiful oasis, but much more than that you carried out your work with a great deal of empathy, curtesy and above all determined efficiency. Not something you get very often these days. No tea breaks, although the large glasses of juice were gratefully accepted and drunk whilst working. So you have also restored my faith in British workman.

I'm sorry gang for harping on, but all too often we tend to give 'feedback' on the negatives and have a rant about things that don't work, or people who have given us bad service. But how often do we applaud a job well done or even worse forget to say thank you?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Oh Pooh!! (Caution, if you are eating, finish before you read this.)

On Sunday afternoon we had a storm of monsoon proportions.

After the rain had stopped his Lordship and I went outside to enjoy the post storm sun. And above is the sight that greeted us. Our garden had become a lake... we stood on the decking watching as the water rose.

Eventually the entire garden was submerged in four inches of water. It came bubbling up from the manhole cover in the back garden.

That was Sunday!

Today is Thursday! For the last four and a half days I have endured, the increasing stench of RAW SEWAGE, yes, RAW SEWAGE, all manner of unmentionable waste products floating about merrily in my back garden. As the temperatures have begun to soar over the past couple of days those nasty little pongy, whiffy organisms that enjoy this muck have begun to breed, and there is now a thick coating of frothy slime, seeping under the deck and hiding in corners. So what I am doing about it? Well so far three different teams of men have turned up, each has tried in vain to sort out the blockage. If another workman stands in my back garden scratching his chin and sighing, I will personally christen him in my new lake.

After much poking, prodding, sighing, tutting and some investigation, they have discovered that the main drain has collapsed down the road, some eighty metres away. Now forgive me for being a little crude here, but when I've completed my 'ablutions', I flush and move on. I do not expect to see the aforementioned deposits again. So it is somewhat disconcerting to have several burly chaps wading around and poking around in, well, my more intimate doings. I am not sure however that I take any solace in the fact that they are probably indistinguishable from those of the other dozen or so households whose 'doings' are now frequenting my garden.

They have assured me that they will clean up my garden and replace the paving etc. When, well that is entirely another matter. It is already 22 degrees and it is not yet mid morning. There I shall leave you, thankfully, not with the pungent aroma of sewer that is currently seeping through my home.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Do Exist.

The young woman stood on the side of the platform at the train station. Her sobs inconsolable. Her reasoning impaired. Not drink. Something far worse, depression, medication, a world of issues too difficult to express. Her life falling away and her crys for help unheard.

Most noticibly by the ticket collector who had ignored her pleas for help and thrown her off the train and abandoned her, without a second thought. On a dark and empty station miles from anywhere.

Desperate she dialled a number and waited eagerly for her Mother to pick up, although she was over two hundred miles away, she needed someone who could understand her fear and although not able to physically hold her, could speak the words whose magic only came from knowing that she was loved.

Had her disability shown, there would have been compassion, understanding, assitance. But her scars are hidden, and so the world carried on as though she did not exist. She became a 'non' person.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Island of a Thousand Palms. (Part l)

Well my little foreign cultural exchange experiment went swimmingly.
Our flight took off on time, we only had to wait an hour after the stated time for the check in desk to open, and of course as always I had to go through the security scanning machine several times. removing ever more items of clothing until at last sick of the constant beeping, and with possibly the worry that the whole terminal might get rather embarrassed should they continue I was waved through with a dogged resilience on the part of the security bods. I have never discovered the reason for my wonderful ability to comfound the machines, but it never fails. Believe me when I say that I am on intimate terms with several security officers at a number of airports.
His Lordship and I were not sat together on the aircraft unfortunately, but he managed to get the two old biddies, who wanted to tell him all about their lovely cat and their great-grandchildren... they had a lot of them and ample time to kill during the three hour flight, they had photos too :) He emerged at the other end with a rather glazed expression and face ache from all the attentive smiling and nodding.

I on the other hand managed to secure the only two other 'normal' looking people on the plane. A young couple on only their second post wedding holiday, ahh! Not flippin ahh at all. They may have looked about 25 years old, but they were as old as Methuselah, good grief, I felt positively pubescent next to them. As we settled into the flight, I immersed myself in my first book, one of the many I devoured over the course of the week, then he committed the first cardinal sin, he wanted to 'chat', but I had an open book in my hands. Hint, hint!! Noo, undeterred he ploughed on.

"Ooh, look we're reading the same book." He cooed.

"Mm." I nodded and smiled.

"What page are you on?"

"Eight." I replied.

"Huh, not a very fast reader then." he pointed out smugly.

"No, unfortunately I seem to be having a little trouble concentrating. I don't know why." I smiled my most sweet sycophantic smile.

He grinned and rifled through the pages of his book to, page seventeen. I resumed my labour and took several deep breaths... a couple of minutes of sheer bliss, then!

"Heck, fancy getting the job of your dreams one minute and then being brutally murdered the next, that's a shame, I really liked her." he suddenly blurted.

Alrighty, he had just commited the second cardinal sin, I'm on page eight, he's on page seventeen, the only 'her' in the book is in rude health at the moment, making plans for her future. HINT, FLAMING HINT. And thus our journey together continued. His final comment to me as we dissembarked, "I've really enjoyed talking to you it's so good when you meet a person with like mind and literary interest." I'm sorry I felt no guilt or shame for the monosyllabic content of my part in our conversation, or the constant images flashing through my tortured mind of limbs being torn asunder and general mayhem and carnage occurring in row 13, seats b and c.

And so we had arrived at our destination, the heat of late afternoon hazed over the tarmac of the runway and an incredible deep azure blue sky beckoned as we stepped from the plane.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Eagle Has Landed.

I'm back. I arrived home at 5am this morning, so I'll catch up with you tommorow. Thanks for taking care of the place whilst I was away.


It's the Admiral's turn to blow the trumpet on another awful book. I wondered when someone was going to get around to one of my favourite 'gongs' The Da Vinci Code. I'm with you Poopie, I cannot abide this awful excuse for a novel.

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