Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Little Cultural Exercise - Santa Clause

Well it has been far too hectic in the St Jude household this past month. With studying and working we have not had a moment to ourselves. With this in mind I decided that this year I needed to avail myself of a 'personal shopper' for my Christmas pressies. After some thought it came to me that at this time of year there really was only one person for the job a true professional in every sense of the word... Santa Claus!

So I settled down and wrote my list of presents. This done I pondered on what to do next. I could pop it in the post box with nice little note;

My Dear Santa,

I just thought that I would drop you a quick note and a short, (shortish), list of my gift requirements for the forthcoming Yuletide festivities. Please note that I have referenced in italics preferences for colour, size, brand, and alternatives should the item be out of stock. I have also put the address for each item to be delivered.

Yours in eager anticipation

St Jude xxx

I set off to the post box with my precious list. As I rounded the corner I noted the burly figure of the postman heaving a huge sack of letters into the back of his van. He groaned as I sprinted towards him with the list in my outstretched hand.

"Oh blimey, not another letter for his nibbs!" he huffed, "I hate this time of year with all this extra mail. Why don't they just go and see him instead, it'd make my life a whole lot easier."

Of course! What a wonderful idea, then I could be sure that he had received the precious list. Unfortunately this was a tad difficult as I had already delivered my letter into the 'safe' keeping of the postie. Who was adamant that it was now the property of the Royal Mail, and I couldn't have it back. I thought about turning on my saintly charm, but then I realised that time was ticking on. After a couple of minutes of attempting to wrestle the letter from his grasp, I had the better of him and triumphantly marched back home with my prize held close to my chest for safe keeping.

A short while later I was headed for the bright lights of the city and my hunt for Santa Claus had begun. Now boys and girls I don't want to burst anyones bubble but I have to inform you that there are some rather scurrilous people out there, not least the 'Santa doppelgangers'!!! You see I wasn't about to leave my precious list with just any old Santa lookalike. No! I was determined to make sure that I went to the very man himself. This mission was not going to be an easy one, but I was up to the challenge, I had ensured that I had put on my comfiest heels and wrapped up warm in a natty little cashmere number. Look out Santa... St Jude is on your case.

After doing a brisk recky of the shops and malls I discovered to my horror that there were even more 'Santa's' plying for business than I had anticipated. Hey ho I would just have to jump in at the deep end. My first port of call was a smart shopping mall with a grotto situated on the top floor. It looked the business with a Peter Pan themed display and little animated characters jiggling here there and everywhere. (They really should have put it closer to the toilets, children do have very small bladders.) I took my place in line and waited with baited breath. After what seemed like hours but in reality was a mere forty minutes, I was finally bidden entrance to the man himself.

I smiled my saintly smile and approached Santa. Just as I was about to plant my saintly behind on his lap a rather matronly fairy sternly announced, "we don't sit on Santa's knee,"

"Oh would that be the 'royal' we, or the common variety of we?" I asked bemused

"Please use the stool." she glowered.

Turning to follow her gaze I noticed a somewhat diminutive wooden stool placed to one side of the now smiling Santa. A couple of minutes later I had managed to balance myself, somewhat precariously onto the aforementioned stool. So with my knees jockeying for position with my ears I proceeded to go through my list. Sadly I had only managed to get a third of the way through before the Fairy called time and insisted that I let someone else have a go with Santa. After a somewhat undignified scramble and with the assistance of Santa's beard, I managed to extricate myself from the stool.

The next Santa was located in a large department store that had obviously seen its heyday and was now marching time until the developers could move in and change it into up market apartments. The grotto had seen better days, some of the characters were now showing their age. Snow White needed her roots doing as the grey was showing through, and grumpy had obviously been stored too close to the radiator as he had melted and now looked like he had, had a stroke poor soul, and where was Dopey? I needn't have feared, Dopey was alive and kicking in the shape of a spotty little Herbert who was dressed as an elf. He smiled inanely as he rooted around the caverns of his nostrils seemingly blissfully ignorant of the audience he had accumulated. After passing him a tissue I proceeded in to see Santa. Trust me when I say that this was not the real deal. If the shop was past it's best then this chap was definitely past his sell buy date. The suit was threadbare and smelt of mothballs, his boots were a pair of wellies and his beard, well, suffice to say that I could have knitted him a better one. I didn't linger, made my apologies and left sharpish.

Onwards and upwards as they say!

To be continued.....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It Never Rains...

I am still here, I'm just buried under a mountain of lecture notes and books. I don't actually attend campus, my lectures are held in various locations and towns. The upshot is that I have to have a meeting every morning before setting off just to make sure I am heading in the right direction.

Friday morning was a classic example. I was up bright and early and headed off to my training for the day. It took me almost two hours to get there as the traffic had come to a virtual standstill, due to 'rain'. The world and his wife had decided to ditch public transport, (well we are into the season of soggy leaves on the rails and soaking wet bus seats), and take to the road. Anyway I digress, so I arrived a tad late.

I managed to discreetly slide myself into the back of the room and position myself at a work station at the rear. For the next thirty minutes I got my head down and tried to catch up. It wasn't too difficult as it was systems training and already having used the systems for some time I discovered that I already knew most of what they were doing. In fact it seemed ridiculously basic. Hey ho I thought, not all of my new trainee friends have worked in the organisation before so I guess they have to cover everything. Then it was time for a break. I looked up at the trainee sitting next to me and smiled. Somewhat to my confusion they didn't look familiar!

After scanning the room for a familiar face I realised to my horror that I didn't recognise anyone. I had in fact gatecrashed a training session for new starters. After checking with the tutor and making a hurried phone call to one of my fellow trainees I discovered that I should have been at a different location altogether in another town. So my head in a fog I jumped back in the car and drove for another hour until I reached the 'new' venue. The tutor was on form, and there was to be no discreet entrance this time. He ensured that a place had been saved for me at the front of the room and insisted on doing a lengthy recap of the mornings lecture, much to the chagrin of my fellow trainees.

But on a positive note I now have a wonderful team of assistants who kindly text me the times and venues of my lectures.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The New Office

Well not only am I now at 'big school' but I have also been placed in a new office to boot. It is in a different area to my last office, a rather more, shall we say deprived area sadly very much in need of some investment.

On my first visit to my new office I had a slight problem finding the place. I had been given directions on where to go, but at first sight I thought the place was derelict. No sign on the door, but then I suppose they don't particularly want to advertise their existence. I entered the building with the feeling that I should be wearing a hard hat just in case! The foyer reeked of damp and mould. The paper was peeling from the walls and the lift door was open displaying its grimey rubbish strewn interior for all the world to see. So I decided to take the stairs, dimly lit and only slightly more enticing than the lift I headed for the second floor. A small laminated sign stuck to the door told me that I was in the right place.

The surly grunt of the receptionist acknowledged my presence and I was buzzed through to the reception. As I stood for a moment trying to take in my new surroundings I became aware of two 'bodies' bedded down on the comfy chairs, a faint sound of snoring and an aroma of stale beer and farts added to the homely feel of the area. Another surly grunt and I was buzzed through to the office, leaving the two morally challenged bods to their morning nap.

I was greeted by a rather ebullient looking chap who welcomed me to the office and proceeded to show me the 'sights'. I was also introduced to the team, their names briefly making an appearance in my memory only to fly off to pastures new as the next one came along. They seemed somewhat bemused by me, some of them had no experience of my role and were intrigued as to what I was doing there, others, possibly the more jaded among them greeted me with a knowing smile and carried on with their work. I for my part smiled until my face ached and made the usual small talk required on such occasions. Then I was shown to my desk. Devoid of any clutter or indeed a PC I noted, I sat down and settled myself to the arduous task of thumb twiddling for the next few hours.

Several cups of tea later and having fended off an attempted coup on my desk I decided that I had put in enough effort for one day and headed off to the local cafe for another much needed cuppa and a toasted teacake. It's hard work being the 'newbie'!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eating Elephants.

What happended to the weekend? Did I blink?

Week 1.
Well I now consider myself to be well and truly inducted, I've been inducted into university, well actually not one but two... I don't do things by half my dears. I've also been inducted into my new team, my sub group, my super group (no not as in Bee Gees or ABBA type super group), my district. In fact I am so well inducted I feel like I have been turned inside out and back again and I'm not sure if at some point someone didn't tattoo the company logo on my rump, well ok if they didn't do, then it certainly felt like it was going to be done at some point.

My fellow 'cohortees' are an amiable bunch. The usual mixture of the shrinking violets who at some point will come out of their shells and let their hair down, probably after a babycham or two... bless them. The peirced, tattooed wild child, only with a few years under her belt looking slightly jaded and a little the worse for wear. Sadly at two of the offices we've attended so far she has been mistaken for one of the clients! The ebullient and ever so chatty ones who really don't understand the concept of putting a sock in it, but hey ho they give the rest of us some snooze/thinking time and keep the tutors off our backs. Then of course there are the fresh faced post grads who haven't a clue what they want to do when they grow up so when they saw the advert for the trainee ship they rubbed their hands together with glee and whoopeed at the prospect of another couple of years as an undergraduate again. (Are you mad children?) Oh and of course then there is little old me, the saintly Jude who never could say no to a lost cause... and believe me at the end of the first week I feel like the biggest lost cause going!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I'm half way through my first week of 'big' school. They've thrown so much information at me that my brain feels like it's in a blender. I'm preparing a post to let you know all about it this weekend, but right now I'm heading off to... oh bugger, I'll need to check my calender. What day is it?

Friday, October 12, 2007

St Jude is Back....

Well I can't believe my dears how long it is since I was last here. How rude! I apologise profusely.

Just a brief update for now. I am still working with the morally challenged, no they haven't done for me yet. Remember I mentioned that I had applied to do my degree... there were 35 places available and over 2000 people applied. So I have to say the odds were not good.

I DID IT, they actually liked me and I got through the assessment centres and months of trials. Today was the last day at my previous office. It was so sad to say goodbye to all of my colleagues and especially my boss, who is also a very good friend. From Monday I start my course and I join a new team, I'll be working in a drugs intervention team, yummee, yum!

Once again I'm sorry that I haven't been 'around', but I will hopefully now be 'online' a lot more.

I've really missed you all and thought about you often.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Civic Duty - Part 2

After having spent the best part of day one with my nose in my book it wasn't looking too healthy on the old jury selection front. So I arrived for day two armed once more with my trusty tome and settled in for another day of reading, secure in the knowledge that I would not be disturbed by the class idiot who fortunately for me had been selected on day one. Alas it was not to be, as ten minutes later an usher appeared and my name was called.

After we were sworn in the judge addressed us. He explained what would be occurring, but most importantly he told us when we would be breaking for lunch. Then the prosecution Barrister stood up and outlined the case against the defendant. I obviously can't go into detail but suffice to say that it was a case of wounding. Then the defence Barrister stood up and outlined the case for the defendant.

Throughout the course of the day a procession of witnesses came and went, their evidence duly picked over by each of the Barristers and the evidence was distributed to the jury. Full colour glossy pictures, witness statements, oh and a time lapse video to boot. And so it was time for the defence to call their witness... their one and only witness.

A rather dapper gentleman strode into the court room and took his place in the stand. He reminded me somewhat of 50 cent dressed up for a funeral, he did however have the obligatory gold chains and rings. He faced the jury and glared, not just any glare a malicious glare, (I come a cross this rather a lot in my line of work, it is intended to put people 'in their place', let them know who is the boss so to speak), as he continued to glare I could sense some of my fellow jurors shifting in their seats uneasily. I was just considering giving him a smile and wave, you know to lighten the mood a little, when the defence Barrister began his questioning.

Initially he gave only yes or no answers but then he obviously began to get into the swing of things. He was asked about the events of the day leading up to the event. Then he was asked to relay what had occurred. He told the court that he had been stood some four or five feet away from the defendant when the event had occurred but that he could see quite clearly what had happened. At this point I should perhaps point out that the defendant was claiming that he acted in self defence and that the claimant had struck first.

"So you had clear sight of the event, is that correct?" asked the defence Barrister

"Yes, I saw it all" replied the witness

"So did you actually see the Landlord throw a punch?"


"So he definitely threw a punch at the defendant, thank you. Who threw the first punch"

"Bill, (the defendant),"

"Are you sure about that?" asked the rather rattled defence Barrister

"Absolutely my friend it was definitely Bill"

It was at this point that the Judge asked the defence Barrister if he was really sure that he would like to continue with his questioning. He simply shook his head and sat down.

In a masterful stroke the prosecution Barrister rose.

"Your Honour, the prosecution has no further questions for this witness, however I would like to thank my learned friend here for his assistance"

As we in the jury and the rest of the court room choked back our stifled giggles the judge adjourned proceedings until the following morning for the summing up.

The following morning my fellow jurors and I were taken to the deliberation room. Here we had to hand in our mobile phones to be locked into a drawer, just in case we should feel the need to phone a friend for help, and the door to the room was locked behind us. It was only at this point that I could really take stock of my fellow 'peers'. A young woman who would remain silent throughout, clearly showing withdrawal symptoms from lack of her mobile, an elderly chap who must have been dozing during the trial as he had to be reminded on several occasions of the evidence,and then there was the 'falterer'. There's always one, they just can't make a decision. Even if the evidence is there in black and white, even if the defendants own witness has categorically dropped him in it. The 'falterer' will not take responsibility for the verdict. Fortunately even with these hindrances the deliberation was mercifully short.

We were escorted back to court to present our verdict. 'Guilty'. The judge having nodded his agreement proceeded to recount the previous convictions against the defendant, which included numerous violent offences . I think the falterer can rest easy.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Civic Duty - Part 1

I turned up yesterday for my jury duty. Negotiating the airport style security was interesting. I handed over my bag to the friendly looking lady who immediately opened it and tipped the entire contents out into a tray. Lovely! The ladies will relate to my rather embarrassing confrontation with the odds and ends accumulated over a millenia. The battered tampon was however the least of my worries as it also transpired that I had a hypodermic needle in my bag. Not used I hasten to add. The contents of the tray, my bag and I were escorted to a small room just off the foyer. It was here that I was told by a very stern court official that I needed to explain myself. He didn't see the humour when I proceeded to tell him my life story. It was actually the needle he wanted me to explain, and so I told him about my work with the morally challenged and how on rare occasions I am tasked with providing new needles to the needy addicts. My warrant card scrutinised and the contents of the tray once more sieved through in all it's minutiae, I was escorted back to the foyer. Here the same court official gave me directions to the juror's suite and whispered the top secret code to gain access.

I punched in the code and entered. The juror's suite is a large room with lots of comfy looking seats and a cafeteria located at one end. I immediately noted the rather interesting selection of reading materials, an Argos catalogue, several editions of the bible, a couple of books explaining what the bible is all about and numerous leaflets about , looking after your heart, diabetes, help with alcoholism and how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Hmm, I know that jury service can be dull and that some poor folk may succumb to a touch of cabin fever after being locked away for several hours, but heart disease, alcoholism and a bonkathon!

I proceeded to the cafeteria and secured myself a large cup of tea then I sat down to enjoy the rather weighty tome that I had remembered to bring with me. I had managed to get a couple of pages in when I was addressed by a man wielding a fake accent that quite frankly was more Humpty Gocart than Humphrey Bogart,

"Of all the bars in all the world you had to walk into mine,"

Had I inadvertently made eye contact or given out some signal? Oh wonderful I had managed in some way to attract the class idiot. Un-phased, he went on,

"What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?"

"Reading a book!" Unfortunately he took this as an invitation to engage in conversation and proceeded to give me his take on jury service and his civic duty. In a nutshell, he believed that 'they', the defendants would not be in the dock if they hadn't done something wrong, visa vie, they are all as guilty as sin. Simple! Yes he was and unfortunately I came to note over the course of a very long day of waiting that he was not alone in his philosophy.

To be continued...

Friday, March 30, 2007

We Apologise For The Interruption In Service!!!

Well peeps I apologise for the delay. It has been a somewhat hectic month to say the least. I have been 'acting up' in a new post at work. This has required a mammoth amount of my time and I needed to hit the ground running so to speak. It also dictated that I have my wits fully about me and unfortunately for my blog... not else where!

In other news I have decided to apply to do extra training at work and take my degree, a couple of minor points to bear in mind here, my employer being the normal government sort likes to extract as much blood from this stone as possible and so they expect us to complete our degree in two years as opposed to the normal three. We are also expected to work at the same time, part time granted, whoopee, but still it will be an action packed ride for 24 months. There are no guarantees of my getting on it though I'm still at the application stage and there are only thirty odd places and a couple of thousand applicants!! Watch this space.

I shall be doing my civic duty from next week for a fortnight, I'm on jury service. Which idiot decided that everyone has to do it now, no exemptions anymore, even judges can be called up!! Who in their right mind is going to want someone who works in law enforcement on their jury, even worse who is going to want someone who may well know the person in the dock and their previous history. I can just imagine it now;

"How do you plead?"

"Not guilty your honour, I was at home with the missus," replies the defendant

"Huh right, just like you were innocent the seventeen occasions before!" comes the small voice from the jury section.

Hopefully they will send me away, I know of at least two of my dear little chaps who are due before the bench over the next couple of weeks, so that's two trials I'm barred from. For those of you who have never served on a jury before, it isn't remotely interesting. Most of the time is spent sitting around waiting, if you do get onto a jury it is normally adjourned for some legal wrangle or thrown out because of incorrect procedure.

I'm driving up to Scotland this evening, his Lordship and I are going to visit his sister. It should be a nice break, but before then I have to tie up loose ends at work, it's 5.30am and I need to hit the road for another fun packed day with the morally challenged. So once again apologies for the interruption in bringing you this blog, hopefully things will settle down again soon.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Life on the Mean Streets - Massacre

I don't know how to tell you all this, but there was a mass murder at work yesterday. Oh no, I hear you gasp. Oh yes I reply, but there is worse to come.. I was one of the perpetrators!!!

This has been brewing for the last couple of weeks. The 'victims' had first made themselves known to a couple of my colleagues early one afternoon as they were sitting at their desks next to the window. The encounter was painful and left them scarred and with an unfulfilled itching to rid themselves of the memory.

Over the next few days several more of us fell prey to them, indeed their numbers were growing and they knew no boundaries. Finally we could take no more, in desperation we called on the services of a 'specialist', someone prepared to deal with the detritus of society. We only knew him as Brian.

Obviously in our line of business we have inside knowledge of such people and the 'work' that they perform. I have to say however that the negotiations were tricky. Meeting in secret and ensuring that our phonecalls were not overheard, we finally agreed on a date and time. His methods were brutally simple but swift and deadly. None would survive he assured us, no one would be any the wiser.

And so in the still of night just a couple of days later, he stealthily entered the building by the rear door. Nothing could distinguish him from any other 'cleaner'. He quietly worked his magic and satisfied that there were no survivors he left us a note telling us how and where to send payment. Then he slipped out into the night once more.

Payment was swiftly dispatched, we wanted to distance ourselves from him with all haste. No one need ever know the terrible deed that had taken place under the cover of darkness. We must all stick together, lips sealed and sit tight, we'd get away with it, then it all started to unravel.

By lunchtime the office looked more like a late night at a German bierfest with people slapping at their ankles thighs and backsides. Brian had failed. Our nemesis had returned with a vengeance. These were the 'offenders' in question;

FLEAS, but it gets worse, these are not just any old fleas, they are Pulex Irritens, human fleas and they had infested our office. I am reliably informed that they are very rare these days, (they are even rarer now).I choose not to share my body fluids vicariously or not with strangers and as fleas are on the whole a whorey bunch not caring a jot who they bite, I made sure I had protection. However there are only so many ways in which you can accessorise a pair of waders.

After two more days of mayhem working with the new offenders, and no imminent support from the top brass, we decided to take matters into our own hands. At eight o'clock yesterday morning and suitably attired for the mass murder, we armed ourselves with industrial strength flea spray and set about the annihilation of the now hideously enormous population of fleas. Only time will tell if our massacre was a success. In the meantime I'm off to the shops, I saw a very nice scarf that I think will look absolutely stunning with my waders!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Yes it is the beginning of Lent, so for the next forty days and nights, many people will be sacrificing something in their daily life.

This year my colleagues and I decided that we would all give something up for Lent. I love my co-workers they are a hotchpotch of people from different backgrounds, race, culture, religion etc. As we started the ball rolling it gathered momentum and even the non-christians decided that they would like to join in. They wanted to boost the moral of their team and felt that a little abstinence could probably do their 'souls' no harm either. So here are the things being given up;

5 people are giving up chocolate
3 people are giving up smoking, (ouch, I take my hat off to them)
4 people are giving up alcohol, (me included... oh my word, no pickle juice until Easter)
2 people are giving up their cars, (they will be bussing it or on 'shanksies pony')
2 people are giving up cakes and sweet things of any kind, (I think they call this a diet)
and finally,
1 person is giving up cream cheese bagels.

'I'm sorry', I hear you say, 'cream cheese bagels?'

Yes, cream cheese bagels, they are her addictive, breakfast pleasure, she is on first name terms with the staff at the bagel shop nearest to our office. We realised that with this selfless act our little band had witnessed the pinnacle of true self sacrifice. We felt honour bound to help our friend in her endeavour, and so in order to assist her path towards admission to the hallowed ground of her own 'heaven', we telephoned the local shop. They now display the following note on their counter;

Do not serve cream cheese bagels to Carol.

She has given them up for Lent.

We salute this incredible act of self sacrifice.

See you in forty days.

I hope she appreciates our little gesture of encouragement!!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Little Oddities!

Well this post is a little overdue. I was recently tagged by Mamma, I am supposed to tell you five 'slightly odd' things about myself. Obviously this has taken a great deal of thought, as being a Saint I am of course perfection personified... oh alright then, yes I know I am a rather worldly Saint so there may just be a few minor blemishes.

  1. When texting from my mobile I have to use correct spelling and grammar. Likewise when receiving a text it makes me cringe when the sender doesn't do the same.
  2. My wardrobe and my shoe cupboard have to be colour co-ordinated. Yes I do have a slight thing about shoes, in fact I could probably give Imelda Marcos a run for her money... in the correctly colour co-ordinated trainers of course.
  3. I have creaky knees, no really they creak very loudly when I walk up and down stairs. I went to the Doctors about it, he reassured me that there was nothing to worry about, they were just noisy knees and gave me the technical name for the condition. I saw JT a little later and being a nurse she enquired what the diagnosis was, I cheerfully informed her that I had 'cretinous' knees. After she had recovered from her fit of laughter she informed me it was actually crepitous!!
  4. I have a small birth mark on my back, my son and daughter have identical birthmarks in exactly the same place. (No they are not numbers!)
  5. I may not swear or curse, but I do growl. Hmm, when I am miffed I growl and whoa betide anyone who does not heed the sign. Fortunately I have never had to resort to biting anyone yet ;0}

So there you have it, five slightly odd things about me, who would have thought it eh! Now at this point I am supposed to tag five other people, so I tag, Kate, she's always game for a laugh, 100 words, purely because it's the devil in me and I can't wait to see how he's going to do this in a century, Stinkypaw, because we like her, Marymurtz, so that when she runs out of something to say she'll have another meme in the wings, and finally Dorky Dad.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I CAN Perform Miracles.

Many moons ago I worked as an Educational Consultant. This required me to travel around primary schools in the area and roll out the 'new' attainment targets.

So I set off one wet and windy morning for my first appointment. I pulled into the parking area and headed for the reception. As I passed the playground I noticed a large message pinned to the fence.

Missing, Flopsy Houdini, the school rabbit.

If you have any information

Please contact reception.

Underneath the message was a picture, Flopsy in all it's loveliness, a handsome bunny resplendent in black and white coney fur and a blue leather collar. My meeting was brief as the school had come down with a dose of the sniffles and so most of the teachers were either off sick or in no mood to learn about attainment targets. So I gathered up my stuff and headed back to the car.
As I approached it, my eyes settled on the fluffy black and white bundle lying just to the side of the back wheel. Yes it was Flopsy Houdini. After checking it over I discovered that it was now the 'ex' Flopsy Houdini, it would appear that I had run it over as I was parking.

Oh my giddy aunt, I wasn't sure what to do next, I could put it next to the wheel of another car and drive away, letting someone else take the blame, (no I couldn't bring myself to do that, I'm a saint we have codes of practice). I could take it home and give it a decent send off in the back garden, (everyone would be none the wiser and at least it would have a resting place). I could come clean and tell the receptionist what had happened, (I'm sorry I was completely lilly livered and couldn't face the accusing glares of the children and teachers). So I came up with an alternative plan.

I quickly emptied one of my boxes and put the demised bunny into it. With it safely stowed in the boot I headed into town and the nearest pet shop. Yes my plan involved a switch. After trawling around most of the pet shops in the area without success the situation was looking bleak. Then almost at the end of my tether and the list in the yellow pages I found my 'golden fleece'. A perfect match no one would be any the wiser. So after buying a pet carrier and getting the collar onto Flopsy ll, I had it safely deposited on the back seat. Next stop the school.

They were overjoyed that I had 'found' their bunny, the children had been heartbroken. After much celebration and communal cuddling, the Flopsy doppelganger was put into a new high security hutch. My deed done I headed home and put the previous Flopsy into a cosy earthy bed. All's well that ends well!!

Not quite... a couple of weeks later I received a phone call from the Headmistress at the school.

I answered the phone, "hello there,"

"Hello St Jude, I was just wondering if you could help me out with a slight query?" she asked

"Certainly, fire away,"


"Oh yes, and how is Flopsy?"

"Oh very well, in fact so well she has just given birth to seven babies, the children are over the moon, though it was a bit of a shock,"

"Little miracles happen," I replied cheerily

"They certainly do St Jude, Flopsy was a boy!" She replied dourly.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Be Nice To The New Boy!

It is Friday night, I have the house to myself, as his Lordship and her Ladyship are out doing other things. I am sitting down with a nice glass of pickle juice and the remote to myself.

So I thought it was time to to tell you all about '100 words'. Please drop by and say hello, (he's a 'newbie' so be nice and show him what we are made off), he has been sitting in my 'daily reads' for the last week or so and I hope that some of you may have found your way there. He has set himself the target of producing his daily posts in just... well 100 words. It is an interesting concept and I for one am eager to know how it rolls out. I would like without further ado to introduce you to The Centurian Diaries. Drumroll fades and... action!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

and the innocent shall inherit the earth..

I know that most of you drop by here for a little light relief, however today has been a rather difficult day and as some of you may not know me very well I thought that perhaps it was time that you got to know me a little better.

For those who are not aware, I work with the 'morally challenged'. I regularly deal with petty theives, burglars, drug dealers, violence, murderers and rapists, although the last two thankfully are more on a 'weekly' basis. I come into contact with case information that is graphic and at times disturbing.

However there is a particular case at the moment which has deeply affected not only myself but my co workers. My friends over here in the UK will I have no doubt heard about it, involving a beautiful child, just a baby, whose cherubic face would melt any heart, (or so I innocently thought), and whose smile I am sure would light up any room. Not anymore. This child was raped and murdered by a close family member.

Some people would assume that dealing with such people on a daily basis makes you immune to the 'normal' human reactions and emotions when confronted which such an aborhition. Well you are wrong. Yes to some extent we do have to switch off, but we never stop caring, we never stop being 'human'. We do, though have to develop strategies to deal with our emotions, otherwise we would all be lettuce limp and incapable of performing and the public would not thank us for that. One such strategy is to 'bury' our emotions, on occasions, such as this you bury them deep. The problem with that is that they are still there, and they can erupt at any time. I had one such moment today.

Nothing I did today could prevent this outburst, but I did my best to hide it. Knowing full well that it would end in tears I headed for the Ladies. I sat inside my cubicle and quietly sobbed my heart out, I had no choice, as a Mother and a Grandmother, my heart was breaking. Then as I tried to compose myself I heard the sound of muffled sobs from the cubicle next to me. Composing myself I opened the door and went to wash my hands. The door next to me opened and out walked one of my team. Neither of us spoke but at that moment we both knew what the other was going through. Instinctively we hugged one another giving and taking the support that we needed. That done we checked our faces in the mirror and walked smiling back into the office.

Tonight as you tuck your babies into their beds, remember to kiss them gently and tell them that you love them. Reassure them that there are no monsters hiding under the bed, but remember as their parents that those same monsters may lurk close by. But above all I ask that you remember this little angel, remember her brief life, don't let her become just another entry in the registrars dusty tome. She deserved so much more.

Normal service will be resumed tommorow... excuse me it has been a 'trying' day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Letters

I was perusing the internet looking for Valentines Day inspiration when I came across the following little gems of advice. These are actually out there, along with a startling array of other wonderful oddities.

Advice on writing love letters...(obviously I have added a few little notes of my own)

Be Original. Just write down your true feelings and we assure you, your beloved will find it the bestest love letter in the world. - 'you're the best thing ever, I can really get to grips with your 'love handles darling'... are you certain about this?

Arrange for Some Mushy Stationery. It will make the love letter seem even lovelier. Also, remember that the paper should be of good quality and long lasting. - you might like to try the 'fire' test prior to using it. Does it burn well?

Don't Use Complicated Words. Don't try to impress your beloved by flaunting a very complex vocabulary, which he/she may not even understand.- do you think I'm lovely, do you think I'm sexy.. do you think I'm stupid.

Don't Make It Too Long. A ten pages long letter will eventually turn off your beloved. - ok, so he has the attention span of a gnat, he's not a great reader and he doesn't understand complicated words. You're not asking him to help you with your crossword in bed.

Date your love letter. So that after many years when you will look at it again, it will bring back all the lovely memories. - oh especially when the paternity tests come back.

Closing of the letter should be done in a very romantic manner. Sign off as Always Yours, Yours Lovingly, etc. - ah so, your loving 'stud donkey' isn't appropriate then?

Please make sure that you have not made any grammatical mistakes in the love letter. - WHAT!! Whose going to be checking it.

and finally some ideas for 'love notes'...

  1. I Love You! - very original.

  2. Without you, I am lost! - then get a map dear.

  3. If it weren't for you, I would have never known what it feels to love and be loved! - he's just trying to get into your knickers?

  4. You may not be the perfect lover in the world. But, You are THE PERFECT ONE for me! - well why don't you just slap him in the old trouser department with a wet kipper... it will have exactly the same effect.

  5. With each passing moment, my love for you grows more and more and more! - yes dear, a bunch of roses would have done fine, see note 4 above!

  6. Whenever I wanted any support, I always found you by my side. Thanks for being there all the time! - you've got a stalker.

  7. I love you from the moment I came into this life and will continue to do so till eternity! - Happy Valentines day mum, your loving son Oedipus R. xx

  8. You are no longer only my love. In fact, you have become my life and I have started living you! - he literally wants to get inside your knickers, especially the red frilly pair ;0)

You should also check out these 'love messages' on the same site as the above advice, they should come with an advisory notice.. 'don't take their advice'.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Porks Off!!

Mrs Beeton came over for dinner yesterday. I did the whole roast thing including Yorkshire pudds. It is always something of a trial when Mrs Beeton comes to dinner. She has very particular likes and dislikes. Unfortunately they tend to based on whatever is happening in the news. For example she is currently 'off' poultry, chicken and in particular turkey. My friends here in the UK will understand why, but for those of you who are not aware, it is down to the whole bird flu furor. Several years ago she gave up on beef, CJD was the culprit, just prior to that it was eggs because of salmonella, and then shellfish because someone told her that they 'store heavy metals', (she has no idea what heavy metal means or indeed where the shellfish keep their store). She spends her entire day glued to the news channel. The BBC of course, because no one else tells the truth!!!

So Back to the meal, I decided as beef, chicken, turkey, fish and eggs were off, I would serve Pork. So there I am serving up when I notice that Mrs Beeton doesn't have any pork on her plate. "You've forgotten to get some pork," I point out helpfully to her,

"Oh I don't eat pork," she replies munching on her carrots,

"what do you mean you don't eat pork, you've always eaten pork,"

"no, I don't eat it anymore, did you know that you get worms from pork!"

I was speechless, but I know better than to enter into an argument with her when she is in this mood. Then suddenly his Lordship came to the rescue, "we could rustle up some sausages... you like sausages don't you." She nodded enthusiastically.

A short time later Mrs Beeton was tucking into sausages, apparently they are not pork, they are sausages. It's a good job her Ladyship didn't decide to recount the story of when she discovered that sausages came from pigs, she was mid mouthful when Daddy, told her that they were pork, unfortunately she put two and two together and made.. well pigs willies. (She was only six at the time.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Gasbaggery - Mamma

This week it is the turn of Mamma to bring us her take on a quick read in the guise of Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross. Apparantly it's only saving grace is that it is a 'quick read'. So go and check out her excellent review here.

If you'd like to join the Gasbags, sign up here!

We're getting to the end of our first review rotation, so now would be a good time to join us! Previous reviews this season:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A Little Cultural Exercise - Ladies and Gents!

His Lordship and I were visiting the theatre the other night. Prior to the start of the show we took a leisurely drink in the theatre bar, a rather grand place with oak panelling and crystal chandeliers adorning the beautifully painted roof. As we were finishing our drinks the bell sounded for us to take our seats. We settled in and enjoyed the first half. When the intermission came we headed back towards the bar, however the effects of the pre-show drink were taking their natural course and so I excused myself and headed for the 'powder room'.

My heart sank as I saw the queue. I should not have been shocked in the slightest by the sight of the line two deep running all the way out of the door and half way up the corridor. This is a fact of life if you are a woman, you have to queue for the facilities. And so it was my friends, that I took an executive decision and decided on an impromptu cultural exercise, 'are we ready yet for mixed sex facilities'?

The gentleman's toilets were on the opposite side of the corridor and so without further ado I bypassed the now cross legged, jigging line and headed towards the gents. On pushing open the door I could hear the sound of 'running water' to my left and therefore felt that it would be somewhat appropriate to divert my gaze to the right. However on doing so I realised that the entire wall was mirrored, as was the wall directly above the urinals. I had been spotted immediately by the half a dozen men engaged in, well in their business.

"Excuse me madam, but the 'Ladies', is opposite," one chap helpfully offered.

"Yes I know dear, but really, have you seen the queue?" I replied, and with that headed to the nearest cubicle to... well to go about my own business. As I sat contemplating the next thousand words in my novel and where my characters were going, (well what do you think about), I could hear a frantic flurry of activity as the chaps quickly finished up and left. You know I have to say that I was a little dismayed to find that not all of them washed their hands. No peanuts for me at the bar!!!

On completing my business I opened the door to go and wash my hands, unfortunately I disturbed a chap who was oblivious to the fact that I was there. On seeing me emerge from the cubicle behind him he panicked and attempted to shake and zip at the same time. Ladies having witnessed the results, I can tell you that this most definitely is not a good combination. As I could see that he was in a great deal of discomfort, and being a saint, I of course offered to assist. The poor chap bolted for the nearest cubicle and locked the door. He left as I was washing my hands, walking not unlike John Wayne as he headed for the door.

Just as he got there the door burst open and in walked a rather distinguished looking chap followed by two very harassed looking gentlemen, who I recognised from earlier when I had been spotted in the mirror.

"Excuse me madam, but may I ask what you are doing in here?" the distinguished looking chap enquired seriously,

"I have no intention of going into any detail, suffice to say that I have been using the facilities,"

"but you have your own across the corridor,"

"have you seen the queue?" I asked,

"that is beside the point madam, they are your facilities and you should use them, these are the gentlemen's facilities and they are unsuitable for ladies,"

"why ever not, they worked just fine for me thank you,"

"you misunderstand madam, these are the gents," he persisted

"so you keep saying dear, why on earth can I not use them?"

Just then a voice piped up from behind the door, it was the John Wayne impersonator, "because you don't have any ruddy balls woman,"

"Oh I beg to differ my dear, I just don't keep them in a pair of crusty old y-fronts...!" I gave him my most saintly smile before taking my leave to join his Lordship at the bar.

This is St Jude Mmr, Cjd, Nut, Dip Py, until my next assignment signing off.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Gasbaggery - Kates Review

This week it is the turn of Kate to entertain us with her review of the Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella. Only Kate could review a whole series of books!!! It's great so get on over there.

Have you read a book that was truly awful, seen a film that sent you running for the exit after five minutes? Think you could write a review and save mankind from having to endure this rot? Then follow this link.

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

Friday, February 02, 2007


I finished work slightly later than normal today. I like to catch the earlier bus if at all possible, the following being the reason why.

The bus is always pretty full by the time it gets to my stop so I headed to the back, not my favourite spot but this time it didn't look too bad. A lady reading her paper, a young woman playing with her phone and a Goth. I settled into my seat, I could hear the metallic thumping of the music pulsing through the earphones of the Goth seated in front of me. I stared out of the window and watched the city sites go by. We had gone a short distance when a rather grumpy voice chirped up;

"Is that your music, turn it down," a grey haired lady who was sitting two seats in front of the Goth demanded peering over her shoulder at me.

"I'm sorry it isn't me." I replied. She spotted the young woman behind me, who had earphones in.

"You, you," she said gesticulating wildly, "yes you, turn your music down,"

The young woman flushed red and turned down her music, but the noise continued. The grey haired woman determined to get to the bottom of this spun around in her seat again, she had her sights firmly fixed on the Goth.

"Will you please turn that awful racket down now,"

The Goth finally twigged that he was the cause of the disturbance and without any argument he apologised swiftly and taking out his earphones he turned his music off. The grey haired lady nodded her gratitude and returned to her paper.

We travelled a few more stops and an elderly black gentleman got on, he found his way to the back of the bus and took the vacant seat next to the Goth. A few stops more and I was bracing myself for the 'onslaught', the school bus stop! The bus pulled up, and 'they' piled on. A group of girls made their way to the back of the bus. Most of them looked to be fourteen or fifteen but there were two or three who where obviously younger, twelve maybe thirteen. One of the twelve to thirteen year olds, a particularly angelic looking girl with flowing blond hair and rosy cheeks over porcelain skin, I have had the misfortune to meet several times before on the bus.

Before she had even reached her seat she had started! A stream of profanities preceded her to the rear of the bus. She plonked herself into her seat on the opposite side of the aisle to the Goth and the elderly black gentleman. She did not hold back, even when her friends, who had also congregated at the back of bus, attempted to curb her language. The elderly black gentleman, as is his right, politely asked her to refrain from using such offensive language. She merely offered him a sneer much to the amusement of her 'posse'.

He turned to the Goth, "I am not sure what they teach them in school these days," he reflected sadly, and a little shocked.

"Certainly not manners Sir," replied the Goth.

I looked across at the blond haired 'cherub' spewing profanities as if they would go out of fashion, language so natural to her that she did not realise it's effect on those around her. The grey haired lady making her way to an alternative seat at the front of the bus, intimidated by this child, when only minutes earlier she had felt easy enough to challenge a young man dressed as a Goth. The elderly black man, on asking the bus driver if he could do something was faced with a blank admission that he, (the bus driver), would prefer not to confront the girl! I might add that he was also met with laughter from the huddle of adoring cherubettes at the back of the bus.

At that moment I took a long look at the blond haired cherub. Where did she learn such language, was it her peers? I think not, they appeared to some extent to be as shocked by her behaviour as the rest of us. Her family? I noted that the area she got off the bus was not the most affluent. The bus pulled up at her stop she and her posse disembarked as did the polite young Goth. If his parents could instill in him such attributes as politeness, good manners and respect for other people, then why could her parents not do the same.

I wonder if his parents are proud of their son, if they appreciate what they have achieved? I know that I for one would like to thank them, and all of the parents out there who still strive to instill the value of respect, courtesy and manners into their children.

I would like to clarify a point here, I am not a prude, I am not a 'snob', please remember that I work with the morally challenged everyday. I am used to this language, although I choose not to use it myself, I am subject to it everyday. But I have to say that the language used here was highly offensive, to hear it, and also witness the behaviour, (she was drinking alcopops at 3.15 in the afternoon, on her way home from school), as it was being used by a child, yes she is a child, disturbs me. I can't help wondering if one day she will be walking through my door!!

'Novelty' Writing Update
2nd Feb word count = 1133
3rd Feb word count = 1019

Thursday, February 01, 2007

'Novelty' Writing - Day 1

Well today is the first day of my journey into 'write a novel in a month' with BBC Scotland. (Thank you Kim for your suggestion.) I am supposed to write 1000 words a day... ha, that doesn't sound much... does it? Thank fully they have chosen the shortest month of the year, how awfully nice of them. I am not sure how far I will get or how long my fingers are going to be after all of this typing but what the heck you have to just take a leap into the dark sometimes.
Word count today = urm that would be zero so far ;0{
18.14pm updated word count = 1068

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not so Secret, Secrets!!

For my Gasbaggy review I have chosen 'The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets' by Eva Rice.
It is an 'amiable' read set in the 1950's and centres on the life of Penelope who lives in a crumbling old ancestral home named Milton Magna.
Basically she meets Charlotte, who becomes her best friend, whilst standing at a bus stop. Charlotte invites her round for tea, so she goes, (who wouldn't follow up an invitation to tea by a complete stranger), at tea she meets Aunt Clare and Harry.
Before I go any further here is a list of characters:
Penelope - a teenager madly in love with Johnny Ray and she has big hands
Charlotte - another teenager madly in love with Johnny Ray, somewhat scatty but very intelligent
Harry - odd eyes training to be a magician, what a catch
Aunt Clare - she has scaly hands... it says so in the book, 'Aunt Clares tiny hand was as delicate as a budgies claw in my great paw' Penelope on greeting Aunt Clare for the first time.
Talitha Orr - Penelope's mother, very beautiful but has a pole up her rear desperately trying to hold it all together and figure out how to save crumbly Milton Magna
Inigo - Penelope's younger brother who wants to be like Elvis
Rocky - he's American, very rich and an agent in the music and movie business... wow what a coincidence maybe he could help Inigo out..yawn!
Marina Hamilton - another American portrayed as rather vulgar who it transpires is Harry's love interest and an alcoholic to boot
So do I need to go on, have you figured out the plot yet. Oh for heavens sake it's obvious, so obvious in fact that the writing talent of Ms Rice is actually wasted. She might as well have written a recipe book!
Here goes then, deep breath;
Penelope falls for Harry, Harry is in love with Marina, Charlotte and Aunt Clare put their heads together to get him together with Penelope, which he ends up doing after a bit of a chase. Talitha gets the pole extracted from her rear and falls for Rocky who is passionately in love with her, he arranges for Milton Magna to be burnt to the ground thereby setting her free of all the debt. And Inigo gets a recording contract in the States. Oh and Marina marries a sop called George and Aunt Clare drops dead in France leaving Harry her son a nice wedge of inheritance. Didn't see any of that coming? Well if you had read the book you would have by the second chapter.
I'm not entirely sure that in light of the transparent plot that the title is very apt. Hey ho, it passed a few soggy mornings travelling to work on the bus!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Yes this blog is one year old today... yipee!

You are all invited to the party,

yes JT that includes you and the Captain, see I promised I would.

I've organised party games,

I thought we could start with a game of musical chairs

Just remember it's my party I might cry if I loose!!! By the way Atilla is that you 'hogging' the show, yes I can see you dear waving at the camera, it's ok you're my oldest blogging chum I forgive you... but just this once.

Ooh, ooh look it's time to light the candles on the cake

altogether now,

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear St Ju-ude
Happy birthday to you

Did you get me a pressie, did you, did you... something sparkly, exotic, did you, eh, eh.

It's ok there are enough party bags for everyone, yes JT that includes you big Sis xx

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Daughter, the 'Treehugger'.

One day a couple of weeks ago her Ladyship had to take an exam for one of her college courses. She studied hard in the days leading up to the exam and burnt the midnight oil making every effort to ensure that she was ready. The night before I tested her and 'teased' the answers from her tiring brain. Now at this point I should say that it does help if you have a smidgen of understanding of the subject that you are testing on. Psychology was never one of my preferred subjects and sadly I have to say that more of it probably remained in the text books than in my brain. However I did my best, and when all else failed I valiantly filled in the 'blanks' with my own theories!

The morning of the exam arrived and her Ladyship seemed remarkably relaxed and calm. Confident in her abilities I headed off to work. At 11.30 she called to say that she had finished her exam and although not altogether happy about how it had gone she did remember some of the theories that I had filled in for her, and she was most grateful, eek! In particular she favoured my theory that Pavlov's' experiments were by their nature flawed and that he did not in actual fact create a trigger to make the dogs salivate on command, dogs drool constantly and his time and effort would have been far better utilised in trying to find a trigger to stop them drooling, especially on furniture and work clothes.

This said she informed me that a bunch of her college friends were heading to the pub to get a bite to eat and a drink to celebrate and that she would see me at home in a couple of hours. I gave her the usual 'Motherly' advice, make sure you eat something, don't drink too much at lunchtime, check your rear view before leaving the Ladies, etc. So I went back to my work. When it was time to leave I called her to see if she would like to meet up and we would go home together. A slightly tipsy daughter answered,

"Hello Mum," she answered.

"Hello Sweetie, I've finished work and I just wondered if you wanted to travel home together?"

"Oh Mum, I'm having a great time, everyone is such a laugh. I'll be home in a little while."

Hmm, "Ok Sweetie, just don't drink too much will you," Famous last words spring to mind.

During the course of a very long and somewhat fraught afternoon awaiting the homecoming of her Ladyship and several increasingly drunken phone calls ranging from "Hi, Mum, we're heading to another pub I'll call you in a bit" to "Hello mummy, you're the besht, you reeally, reeally are, aren't you,"

"Hello Sweetie, yes I know I'm the bees knees, now do you think I should come and pick you up?"

"Ok, what time?"

"NOW, would be good for me dear,"

"Hic, urrm, achewally, I'm not entirely shure, hic, where we are, hic!"

"Try asking somebody Sweetie," I could feel my halo tightening.

Eventually I managed to establish where she was and I headed off to pick her up. After twenty minutes I was at our meeting point and as I pulled the car up I was relieved to see that she was on her way out of the pub. On seeing the car she broke into a jog, unfortunately at that very same moment a nearby tree also decided to go jogging and ran directly into her path. Whallop!! She hit it 'head on', I watched helplessly as she staggered backwards arms clawing at the air, then just in the nick of time she managed to regain her composure. She is her mother's daughter. Courteously she turned to her 'fellow jogger' and apologised for not seeing him, then she happily skipped over to the car and 'slipped' into the passenger seat beside me grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"Hello dear, how's your head?" I asked trying to mask the impending fit of giggles.

"Whow! You musht, hic, musht be p-shy, p-shck, p-shy, hic, a mind reader," she said turning to me in awe, "how did you know my head hurt?"

"I'm you're Mother Sweetie, I know everything,"

As we drove home a large bruise began to develop on the side of her face, several times she queried it's creation and several times I recounted her 'treehugging' encounter. Finally we were home and being the kind Mother that I am I tucked her into bed. At 2.15am I was woken by a rather pathetic little voice issuing from the door,

"Mum, I don't feel well, I don't feel well at all, I think I have concussion,"

"Really darling. So what are the symptoms?"

"I've got a banging headache and I've been sick," she pleaded woefully,

Hmm, nothing to do with the copious amount of alcohol then! So once again I tucked her back into bed, cold flannels pressed to her aching head and bruised face... and of course the obligatory bucket. Then I headed back to my own bed, I'm a saint I know, but there are limits.

I left her the following morning tucked up on the sofa with a bruised face, fractured dignity and a hangover, sorry concussion. As I walked out of the door she was deep in conversation with her cousin, who it appears she had called the night before telling her that she had been attacked by a mad duck named George!! The duck in question resides next to our telephone, he's never shown any signs of aggression before.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Sunday Trumpet

It's Sunday so it's time for another review. Check this one out, it's Tom's first review. It's the book Nemesis, by Bill Napier if you're having trouble sleeping then this is definitely one for you.
If you would like to join the Gasbags then go here you can also catch up with the previous seasons posts and an explanation of how it all began.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Catalogue of Errors.

A few days ago I returned home from work to find two very large catalogues on the doorstep. So I picked them up and took them inside. On the doormat were two letters from the catalogue company addressed to the lady who lived here before us. She had obviously forgotten to inform them that she had moved.

So being the nice bod that I am I thought that I would call the catalogue company and inform them that she no longer lives here. One minor point, I don't have a forwarding address or telephone number for her. Oh well, at least they can have their catalogues back, from the size of them there must be at least half a tree in each one. So I called the company;

The disembodied voice on the other end of the line kicked in on the third ring, "Thank you for calling Big Fat Catalogues, if you are calling to order a cataloge please press one on your telephone pad? If you are calling to place an order from your catalogue please press two on your keypad" and so it went on. Why is there never an option that simply asks do you want to talk to a real person? After several attempts to actually speak to someone and bypass the automaton, I finally got through.

"Good evening, may I take your account number please?"

"Oh I don't have an account with your company," I replied

"Please dial again and press button one on your telephone keypad to set up a new account, thank you," Click...

Excuse me! She had hung up on me. Alrighty, let's try again.

After navigating through the myriad of options once more I was through to a 'real' person.

"Good evening, may I take your account number please?"

"Oh I don't, (no don't do it), actually I'm calling to let you know that I have recieved a catalogue, but it isn't mine, the person you sent it to has moved."

"What's the account number?" I reeled off the account number on the letter they had sent. "Ok Mrs B, what's your new address?"

"I'm not Mrs B, I've already told you that I am calling to let you know that Mrs B has moved. I'm sorry but I don't have her new address,"

"We will need proof," she demanded.

"Proof!" I asked

"We'll need proof that you are not Mrs B and that she has moved."

"No you don't, I am telling you that I am not Mrs B that should be enough, I'm merely calling to let you know that your catalogue is here, it's not mine, and if you want it you can come and collect it, ok!"

"Yes Madam, but we will need proof that you not Mrs B and that she has moved," she repeated

"Hello, hello, is there an echo in here. Look I don't want to get into an argument about this dear, but I am happy to keep them until someone collects them, ok."

"I'm sorry but we don't collect. You need to take it to your post office and send it back to us."

"I don't think so, there's half a tree each in those tomes do you know how much it is going to cost to post them?"

"I'm sorry but you do need to return it. The catalogue does not belong to you it is still our property, which you must return,"

"I didn't ask you to leave them on MY doorstep, and I am certainly NOT going to pay the costs of returning them to you." I said calmly in my most assertive of voices. "If you would like to collect them then I will keep them for five days, however if you have not collected them by then, I will put them into the recycling bin."

"You can't do that, it's not your property," there was a distinct note of panic in her voice.

"Then make sure that they are collected within the next five days." Click...

So the catalogues have sat in my hallway waiting for their 'owner' to collect them. They waited and waited but alas no one came. So as promised the two half trees were deposited into my recycling bin. Who should turn up this morning? Yes you've guessed it, the catalogue delivery / collection bod. I did feel a slight tinge of guilt as she rooted through my recycling bin, but hey ho, it wasn't a full on pang, don't be ridiculous!
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