Thursday, May 31, 2007

I’ve Been Tagged

You may have seen these on other blogs. Basically you are tagged as I have been by The Good Woman and you reveal eight interesting facts about yourself and then nominate five other bloggers to do the same. Actually I’m going to nominate eight. I’m sure the Blogosphere Powers That Be won’t mind.
My eight facts are:

The most interesting event to happen on the day I was born was that Paul McCartney was fined for importing cannabis into Sweden. Sadly not much else of historical note happened that day although my parents might beg to differ (well at least I hope so).

I stopped going to the gym after realising that I had actually gained weight since starting. This may have been due to the fact that I thought that now I was going to the gym I could eat more sweets. I have since discovered that it doesn’t work like that. The gym and the sweets had to go.

I used to be in a band. We weren’t very good. We only played the sort of gigs where the band pays the venue to let them play. Then they paid us not to come back!

I have had a tiny piece of lead embedded in my finger since I was five years old, but no lead poisoning to speak of up till now.

I am right handed but can write almost perfect mirror writing with my left hand.

I can speak a tiny bit of French, but not enough to carry me through a conversation with a real French person (sorry Pepette) (unless they are speaking English of course).

My two favourite shows on at the moment are Ugly Betty and House. What I would be interested to know here from any American readers (Katie) is, is Hugh Laurie’s American accent any good or does it make you cringe every time you hear it?

I cry at most films and have even been known to cry while watching comedies. I have also been known to fall asleep during films and slept through “In Bed With Madonna”, but that doesn’t count because in my humble opinion it was an awful film.

Added Value - Buy 8 get one free extra fact - I am obsessed with the weather. But I think you might already have guessed that.

Now it’s your turn. My nominations are:-

Crystal Jigsaw
Kelly the Domestic Goddess
Kirsty in N’Awlins
I Should Be Working
Nunhead Mum of One
Omega Mum
Valentine Suicide

Have fun and I look forward to reading your interesting facts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ricky Throws Some Shapes

It’s Tuesday morning and I approach my work PC with some trepidation. You see I have become somewhat of a jinx on technology. Over the bank holiday weekend I’ve managed to break not one, but two computers. The first to bite the dust was my home PC which has been at death’s door for nigh on a year and finally won its fight for self-annihilation on Saturday. On Sunday my dad allowed me to use his PC and how did I repay him. Yes, you’ve guessed it – I managed to break it as well. We are now a two broken computer family and the delight of IT helpdesk personnel everywhere.

My technological tale of woe had started when I attempted the view the “Rock at the Racecourse” website and it all became a bit too much for my PC, so perhaps I can blame Deacon Blue for my IT distress.

After all my weather worries, the afternoon and evening at Ayr Racecourse were lovely, not particularly warm, but a nice clear blue sky and no mud so no need for macs of any sort.

I had expected, on entering the racecourse/concert venue, to join a great swarming mass of concert goers all desperate to get into the concert to see their idols. Instead a few people wandered in the direction of the entrance in a rather haphazard manner. It was then that I noticed the Banjo Player.

“Banjo Murderer” might have been a more appropriate term however as he executed a dismal cross between “Duelling Banjos” and “Ye cannae shove yer Grannie aff the bus”. Every time I looked in his direction he gave me a strange unsettling stare. I hoped that, in the name of good music and my sanity, he was not one of the acts on the bill.

Things were now hotting up on the queue front. More than two people at a time were going in. I thought that my pre-concert experience couldn’t get any stranger, and then it did. I was accosted by a Market Researcher.

I ask you – a Market Researcher at a concert. Whatever next? If there are any younger readers out there, please tell me, is Market Research a common practice before going into concerts? In my day they handed out drugs and knock off tickets. I therefore fear for our coming generations if the best pre-concert experience offered is a bad banjo player and a market research questionnaire.

Despite this I felt that I was very helpful when asked my reason for coming. I told the Market Researcher that I was planning to crash Deacon Blue’s after show party, take loads of drugs and sleep with them all (even Lorraine). She left me alone after that. (Actually I didn’t really do any of these things although Ricky does have a certain je ne sais quoi.)

On entering the concert venue, we repaired to the bar. Much repairing was obviously needed and we stayed there for quite some time, missing all the hip and happening bands who were on earlier in the afternoon.

By the time we had finished repairing whatever it was that was broken (sadly not computers) The Saw Doctors were well through their set. I have to admit to not knowing a lot of their songs but they played the hits (including I Useda Lover) and apparently some new tunes according to the more expert R and M.

Now I’ve seen Deacon Blue before. I just don’t remember all the details, so it must have been a good night. They were certainly entertaining on Saturday. Witness, Ricky hunched over his guitar for the first song and then throwing some impressive shapes for the remaining ones. Further, his missus, Lorraine whirling like a veritable dervish around the stage rattling her tambourine and getting jiggy with Ricky and various other assorted bandmembers. Ricky glugging liberally from his bottle of water, then spewing it from his mouth over himself, his bandmates and the audience. One solitary plastic glass of beer was chucked from the audience but nothing could match Ricky’s water spraying technique.

The audience lapped up all the songs and a strange tale told as an intro to “Fergus sings the Blues” They sang “Dignity” for “The Blue” so that they didn’t have to, to the obvious delight of the band. Ricky was in total ecstasy. By the end of the gig he was bathed in spotlight, arms outstretched, Messiah like, declaring his love for Ayr and his wish never to go back to Glasgow. The crowd roared its approval. And then they were off. Presumably back to Glasgow after all and a terse meeting with the Lord Provost of that city about his inflammatory anti-Glaswegian remarks.

As for me, I hit the road home, glad that it had actually stayed dry and the field hadn’t turned into a mudbath. I did have a large bath towel in the boot of my car just in case though.

If I see Ricky about town in Glasgow of an afternoon I’ll tell him that I enjoyed the gig. I just won’t be asking him out for a drink any time soon.

Friday, May 25, 2007


And talking of rotten weather, there are now hailstones bouncing off my window ledge with gay abandon - IN MAY!!!!!!!!

I Hope I Dry Before I Get Cold

I’m going to a concert at the weekend. It’s Deacon Blue and The Saw Doctors at Ayr Racecourse. Hooray you might say, but I may have a problem. The weather forecast is for, yes you’ve guessed it, rain.

The prospect of rain is not one which fills me with any joy, although you could say that I should have got used to it by now, and it gives me a somewhat worrying clothing dilemma. You see I’m considering the wearing of a long green waxed trench coat because if it rains it will be the only thing capable of keeping me and the elements at a healthy distance. However I fear that this is not suitable concert wear and that I may be the subject of some derision.

Rain never seemed to bother me in my younger concert going days. This may of course have been because of the copious amounts of alcohol consumed as a precursor, cursor* and après cursor * to these events. However alcohol is not a luxury to be afforded me this time because I am driving to the concert. There and back. What a thought. In the heady days of youth the thought of going to a concert in a car, never mind in a green waxy trench coat would have been an anathema. Glastonbury and T-In the Park were serviced by a number of busses travelling from all corners of the country. The hedonistic lifestyle started the moment you set foot on the bus. Drinks were drunk, hair was braided, other things happened that I can’t discuss on a public site and the party began. By the time you arrived at your destination you might not have known what day of the week it was and a number of strange intermingling smells were permeating your consciousness but friendships had been made and a sense of community spirit prevailed. We thought that we were neo hippies, before we realised that our parents had been there before us and had done it so much better.

So here I am, an adult of sorts, and I’m going to be driving to a concert wearing, in effect, a long green waxed jacket. How we would have laughed on that Glastonbury bus, had someone so attired stepped on and I know that it’s not what my parents fought the hippie wars for.

So what do I do? Do I wear the trench coat and risk looking like a fool or do I wear my leather-look jacket and risk catching a chill? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

* I may have made these words up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Happiness is a Warm Daihatsu

“Over hill, over dale, through bush, through brier,
Over park, over pale, through flood, through fire.”

Well maybe not through fire, but I’ve done most of the rest in my trusty Daihatsu. My favourite car of the moment and fortunately one easier to drive than it is to spell.

I give you the Daihatsu Copen. It’s sporty, funky, cute, almost cuddly and it’s red. Bright red and I do love a nice red car. It’s got alloy wheels, rear spoiler, and a fantastic hard top which opens up to let the wind blow through your hair as you cruise along Sauchiehall Street of a morning. And the best part is that I got to sit in one once.

OK, so I don’t actually own one myself. The budget won’t quite stretch that far (although for a sports car they are surprisingly cheap) and it wouldn’t last long parked in Glasgow City Centre (this makes me feel a bit better). What I do have is a Daihatsu Charade. A small nippy “city” car in silver (not grey apparently) and no less enigmatic than the Copen. The Charade and I have an understanding. As we tear up the countryside (responsibly of course) plotting world domination together, she pretends that she’s the funky Copen and I don’t disabuse her of this notion.

However back to Sports Cars. Owning one myself is of course a dream but there is something really special about having a sports car. To me it speaks of freedom, unfettered by the world and by responsibility. To be free to do what you want any old time. To spend the day cruising with the roof down and the radio on, just because you can.

Which is why it was with some dismay that I heard of the imminent departure of such a sports car from the family of G. The decision was taken on the discovery that baby number two was on the way and it was decided that a sports car was no longer practical. While I have every respect for them for holding out until baby number two, it’s an indication of a little bit of freedom lost and a little bit of settled down life gained.

Where will the sports car go? To a single girl like me, but one who has a bit more money to spend? And what will replace it? A sturdy practical family car ideal for shopping and school runs, while the sports car heads off into the sunset and life gets a little bit more settled down.

Sometimes I have moments of yearning for the settled down life myself, but tonight its back to the Copen/Charade, windows down (unless it’s raining) volume up and we hit the road to freedom.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Cheery Dearie

Here's a cheery thought for a Friday.

It was a damp, miserable day in Glasgow. The sort of day that we seem to get rather a lot around here despite the promises of Global Warming. To take my mind off the inclement weather I did what comes most naturally. I indulged in a spot of retail therapy. It was while shopping that I found myself talking to a little old lady who declared rather mournfully (in the mournful way that seems to come naturally to many Scots) "Well, that's us had our summer then".

Her little old face with its little old hang dog expression reminded me somewhat of a Basset Hound. Did I offer her calm, quiet, understanding sympathy. Oh no, not I. If I had known her better (or even at all) I would have advised her to pull herself together pretty sharpish. As I didn't know her from Adam (and let's be honest I don't even know Adam) I exclaimed in a friendly but not to be messed with sort of fashion "For goodness sake we're only in May. I'm sure we'll get better weather between now and the end of the summer". Wondering if I had slightly overdone it on the forcefulness I then added in a somewhat softer tone "Don't worry about it".

The little old lady didn't show any signs of relief. In fact she didn't show many signs at all. I hastily left the shop and this poor soul to her weather woes.

Why, you might wonder was she not reassured by the prospect of better weather. My theory is this. The temperature will rise ever so slightly. The clouds will part and the sun will start to sizzle the streets. Wherever you look people will be out in shorts and T shirts embracing the heat. Where will she be? I’ll tell you where. She’ll still be in that little shop, with the same hang dog expression and this time she’ll be saying “It’s just too hot these days, I just can’t cope with this heat.” There's just no pleasing some people is there?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Compensation Culture

What is the world coming to? Spotted in the paper this news item:-

Jessica Turner, 12, of Chicago is demanding £250,000 in compensation after a teacher showed the “gay romance” Brokeback Mountain to her class.

Jessica said she suffered “psychological distress” after seeing the film. Her grandfather and guardian, Kenneth Richardson said “I had complained before about curse words in books but this was the last straw."

Now I’m sorry, but what a load of nonsense. I admit to not actually having seen the film, but having seen this news item I really wish I had. So the “curse words” in this film are very much worse than the words she must hear (and let’s not beat about the bush, probably uses herself) in the playground every day? I don’t know any 12 year olds who wouldn’t want to see a film with some swearing in it. They’d be raving about it for weeks afterwards (as well as repeating all the words concerned.)

I fail to see that a film which won three Oscars could cause “psychological distress”. A film about love, longing and ultimate despair. OK some of this may have gone over the heads of some schoolchildren but psychological distress is unlikely.

Apart from anything else, what is a 12 year old going to do with £250,000? Now I admit that I’m not the best with figures but when I was that age I wouldn’t have had any concept of how much £250,000 was. She’ll get through a lot of McFly CDs with that sort of money. Unless McFly CDs contain too many curse words for her delicate constitution.

Of course it’s not quite as simple as that. Jessica is suing the Chicago Board of Education jointly with her grandfather and I’m sure he has a very clear concept of what £250,000 means. Me, cynical? Never.

Sadly they’ll probably win, and when they do, and little innocent Jessica jumps in the air and says “Shit” or something similar, I hope that the Chicago Board of Education are taking note.

Tomato and Basil Loaf

After what has been a hectic morning, here is the Tomato and Basil Loaf recipe. I wish you better luck than I have had, and any hints and tips would be very gratefully appreciated. My problem seems to be in getting the bread to rise.

Ingredients (Makes 2 good sized loaves)

300ml/10fl oz/1 ¼ cups warm water
1 sachet Asda or equivalent dried yeast (this is probably equivalent to about 2tsp)
Pinch sugar
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
450g/1lb/4 cups strong white Bread Making Flour
5ml/1tsp salt
1.5ml/1/4 tsp black pepper
50g/2oz/1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
15ml/1tbsp sun dried tomato paste
15ml/1tbsp chopped fresh basil (1 – 2 tsp dried will do)
15ml/1tbsp chopped fresh parsley (1 – 2 tsp dried will do)

1. Put half the warm water in a jug. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Add the sugar, mix well and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the onion gently until golden brown.

3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl with the salt and pepper. Make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture, the fried onion (with the oil) the sun dried tomatoes, sun dried tomato paste, herbs and remaining water. Gradually incorporate the flour and mix to a soft dough, adding a little extra water if necessary.

4. Turn the dough on to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. (The recipe says 5 minutes but I think 10 to 15 might be better)
Place in a mixing bowl, cover with a damp dish towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in bulk. . Lightly grease a baking tray. (I find that greasing it with olive oil is good. Never never never use 1 cal spray or the bottom of your bread will be a burned black mess!!!)

5. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead again for a few minutes. Split the dough into two and roll out to form 2 loaves. Place on the prepared baking tray. Cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes until well risen. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas 7.

6. Dust the loaf with a little flour. Bake for 10 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. Bake for 20 minutes more, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

James Bond Has Left The Building

The sun had got his hat on, but his mum didn’t allow him out to play. And so it was that on Saturday, the day of our big James Bond Event, it was a touch cloudy and chilly. Rain hovered in the air, aquiver with warning of impending downpour, but fortunately, the warning came to nothing.

I got to look official and important carrying a clipboard and pen around all day, somewhat incongruously dressed up as a “Bond Girl” in a floaty dress with a large red rose perched atop my head. I don’t think that either Eva Green or Ursula Andress ever carried a clipboard and pen so I felt pretty special. It must be said that I came near to freezing in said floaty dress and had to be told to smile occasionally. This was somewhat hard having had 3 ½ hours sleep and a mouth so cold that I could barely talk, never mind smile.

Sadly, despite our best attempts, no celebrity was forthcoming to perform the opening ceremony. As one of our team members would say “we’re just not sexy enough”. I personally think that they had had a tip off that a certain someone would be writing a post about them afterwards.

Our bouncy castle, coming somewhat inexplicably from China, was impounded at Customs. Apparently the Chinese, on hearing that it was destined for James Bond, thought that it was part of a dastardly plot by the British Intelligence Service for world domination. They may release it on delivery of Daniel Craig and an Aston Martin.

The youth group were unhappy about the lack of a bouncy castle and complained that there just wasn’t enough for older people to do. Older People? I couldn’t quite imagine my 93 year old grannie negotiating the now non-existent bouncy castle, but it was nice of them to think of their elders and betters. Of course it turned out that by “older people” they meant 15 – 16 year olds ie themelves. If they are old now, what will that make them when they hit 93?

Having said that, the event was of course a tremendous success. Our small village gets together, has copious amounts of coffee, tea and buns, and a huge amount of money is raised for charity. It isn’t sexy but it’s important because not only do charities benefit, but it also brings people together in an age when community spirit can be somewhat lacking.

Now I’ll have a well earned rest for a couple of months, before the planning for next year’s extravaganza starts. Anyone got a good idea for a theme and/or a celebrity?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Decadent Westerner

I had a rather scary dream last night in which a terrorist was trying to blow me up because I was a "Decadent Westerner". I tried to persuade said terrorist that, while I could not quibble with being a Westerner, I really try not to be too decadent if I can possibly help it. I did refer him to my previous post but I'm not sure if he read it or if it made any difference. I woke up before he had had a chance to detonate the bomb. Will tense negotiations reoccur in the wee small hours tonight, or will I have somewhat more pleasant dreams. The thought plickens.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Bit of a Do

I’m looking wistfully through some lovely dresses. Dresses which are lovingly wrapped in tissue and are, for most of the time, stored away out of reach. The dresses all belong to me and I have a little tear in my eye. Why so sad? (as the hooker said to Michael J Fox in the Film “Bright Lights Big City”).

(Why such sad film trivia knowledge? – but that’s another post.)

You see I have some lovely dresses, bought in a fog of positivity and hopefulness, with the budget pushed to its limits, and nowhere to go in them. I never seem to be invited to the sort of functions which require the men in “Black Ties” and ladies to complement this with a dazzling array of sparkling, floaty evening gowns. I admit to going to many a great gathering where jeans are the norm, much drinking and fun is to be had and wouldn’t miss them for the world. But just once, wouldn’t it be nice to go to some fancy event where I could put on a posh frock, put my hair up and pretend to be sophisticated for an evening?

Not actually being trained in etiquette and the ways of the posh, I suppose it’s quite likely that I would disgrace myself by spilling red wine down myself, tripping over my dress or eating one too many canapés. I know of no men who would be seen dead in a black tie (or any other type of tie for that matter.) I’d probably try to talk to someone like Posh n’ Becks and find them dreadful bores. I might even drop off to sleep with the sheer tedium of it all although I doubt that Posh n’ Becks would notice. They’d be too busy worrying about who was noticing them. All in all I would probably have had an awful evening but at least I’d have got to wear one of my good frocks.

My horoscope (which of course I don’t take too seriously) said that today I would “have to let go of one of my dreams”. I think perhaps that this might be the one. Posh functions are perhaps not really me, so I will pack the dresses away again until the next time I feel the need for a little wistfulness.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Domestic Goddesticity

I’m all for feminism and being a career woman. The only problem is that I like a bit of domestic bliss as well and therein lies the problem. I just don’t have time for both. In my ideal world I would be holding down a sensible and high flying job during the day and spending my evenings and weekends, socialising, baking, reading, shopping and taking long walks followed by hot baths. It all sounds like heaven. Sadly it would appear that I don’t have time for heaven, as was brought home to me over the weekend.

It should have been so simple. With a busy week in front of me (our big event happening this coming Saturday) I was going to do some leisurely cooking and baking in advance and then freezing it, ready to be defrosted for quick and easy eating after a long day.

The plan was to make Chicken Paprika and some bread as an accompaniment. Delicious, or so I thought.

First to be made was the Chicken Paprika. Secure in the knowledge that I had correctly followed the recipe, I dished the chicken into individual portions to be stored in the freezer. It was on opening the fridge/freezer door that I noticed the yoghurt which I had forgotten to add to the Chicken Paprika. I can now expect to find my tongue ablaze with Paprika on eating this first delicacy.

I then realised that I had burned the pot I had cooked it in. Not just a little burn. Oh no, the kind of burn that a days soaking, a few hours boiling and some CIF couldn’t shift. I’ve now given up and will try to put a positive spin on the black crusty thing lurking at the bottom of my pot.

Now I know that Bread is a recurring theme of this blog so I apologise in advance but my second disaster was with yeast and dough. I made it once, it didn’t work out. I made it a second time and it was fine. I rested on my laurels and forgot the phrase “pride comes before a fall”. Oh and what a spectacular fall this was. I fell right out of those laurels and bashed my head on the ground, with not even a soft bit of bread to break my fall.

My excuse is that I was rushing the bread because, again, I didn’t have a lot of spare time. Secondly I thought that as I was now an experienced bread maker, I could cut corners, experiment and generally do what I wanted. THIS IS WRONG. ALWAYS RESPECT THE BREAD OR IT WILL NOT RESPECT YOU.

Corners were cut, quantities were changed and the result was a charred soggy mess that took me 5 ½ hours to achieve. I could have wept. In fact, I almost did, but I had visitors coming, so I had to keep my chin up, buy some cake and carry on.

When they did arrive, one look at the bread told them the sorry tale and when their toddler tried to take some, he was hastily dragged away by his mum.

Of course I am putting this lack of culinary skill down to the lack of time I had to do it. Nothing to do with just not being the domestic goddess that I would dearly wish to be.

What Should She Do?

A friend of mine has a quandary. She is the PA to someone reasonably well known (xxx - sorry, can't say who) who has been the subject of quite serious criticism in the press. There have even been (in her eyes) unfair critisisms of xxx amongst colleagues. She wants to stand up for xxx but is afraid that she will be vilified if she does so. She enjoys working for xxx, and doesn't want to leave, but the situation is getting her down.
My personal view is that xxx should get a better PR person, but that's just me!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

An Alternative Universe

Sometimes the sheer stupidity of an individual leaves me dumbfounded. I read a story yesterday about a motorist who thought that it was safe to drive after downing nine pints as long as he wore his seatbelt. (We must assume that the said nine pints contained alcoholic beverage rather than water.) So he thought that his judgement wouldn’t be impaired? He was doing 80mph in a 30mph zone! I would call that very impaired judgement wouldn’t you?

So if drink driving and speeding is OK as long as you have your seatbelt on, what else would be OK in this alternative universe?

Robbing someone’s house would be OK as long as you put back everything neatly when you had finished.

Attacking someone would be OK as long as you did it in a safe place where they couldn’t fall and bang their head.

Murder would be OK as long as the murderer gave a detailed explanation afterwards of his motive. This happens in almost all detective novels but almost never in real life.

If you can think of any more or any better examples (which I’m sure you can) please let me know.

Fancy a Cuppa?

With apologies to Clair for sort of nicking one of her ideas, it occurred to me today that there might be some readers of this blog who have very nice blogs of their own which I have never visited. If that's the case, send me a link and I'll visit. I'll take a cup of tea if you've the kettle on, and a few biccies would be nice too. Alternatively if you know of any good websites which I might enjoy, leave me a link as well and I'll trundle over to take a look.
Cheers my dears.
PS - I was going to do a post about the Elections, but I think I'll wait until the results tomorrow.