I have issues. Big ones

There’s only one person left in the whole world that still calls me ‘babe’.

And I have to pay him.

He’s the Big Issue vendor that stands outside the bank. Oh – and he looks a bit like this:

Now, obviously, he’s not a cat. That would be silly. Nor does he have a fly on his nose. He doesn’t need one. But you get the idea. In fact, it’s surprising, in a way, that he doesn’t call me ‘babes’.

Anyway, to me it’s £2 well spent. He gains, I gain. But today, when I pocketed my copy along with my sad pathetic ego boost, I got to thinking about the far off days when I was ‘babe’-d all over the place. I don’t think I appreciated it. In fact, I know I didn’t. I was all high-horseish, and sexist-crappish, and phallocratic-oligarchyish.

Hah. Supply and demand. When the ‘babe’s flowed free, I despised them. Now they’ve dried up, I see their value. I crave the ‘babe’s. So this is why I have 150 copies of The Big Issue on my desk. This is why I stump up every week to the visually challenged homeless man, instead of spreading my largesse more evenly between him, the man with all the badges on his hat and Yugoslavian John. (I know!)   Nothing to do with helping the homeless. It’s all about me.

What am I going to do, though, when even he realises that I’m very much post-babe? (Apart from singing Tina Turner songs at the top of my voice.) I suppose I could transfer my affections and my small change to the Salvation Army man outside the Halifax but, somehow, ‘God bless you’ doesn’t quite do it for me in the same way.

Someone should start up a business, selling anodyne compliments, free from any expectation of ironing, or lifts to the station, or sex, to middle-aged women. They’d clean up. To tell you the truth, this is a far better idea than my knitted uterus one. Dragons’ Den calls again …

Or maybe I should save my Big Issue money up until I’ve got enough for botox … because I’m worth it.

I am, aren’t I?


Go inappropriate yerself!

We writers are very sensitive creatures. Frankly, you only have to look at me to realise that I’m operating on a higher plane than most people. We drift around, thinking exquisite thoughts – more often than not in iambic pentameter – and are physically pained by the use/misuse/abuse of language we encounter in everyday life.  

Thus it is that I am suffering – suffering, I tell you – because of the inappropriate use of the word ‘inappropriate’. I come across it an awful lot, too, because I’m a school governor and have to read reams and reams of utterly boring crap important briefings and policy documents produced by civil servants and apparatchiks whose main aim in life seems to be making it utterly impossible to run a school without falling foul of some new code of practice or filling out forms in quadruplicate – having first completed a risk assessment facilitating the efficient implementation of the government’s excellent and coherent education policies in all our schools.

‘Inappropriate’ looms large in the public sector. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that society as we know it today would fall apart without the word. Cos it’s saying something without saying anything. And I’ll bet you can’t be sued for saying something is inappropriate (I’ll have to check with Moobs on this – although it may be inappropriate to do so).

And since it doesn’t mean anything, ‘inappropriate’ can, paradoxically, mean anything you want it to. So – ‘inappropriate’ – here are some possible interpretations. Feel free to add a few more: stupid, bratty, crap, slutty, boring, smelly, common, foreign, funny, vulgar, intellectual, elitist … the list is, almost by definition, endless.

Now, I may have said something inappropriate in this post – and I just know that picture is – well – inappropriate.

But – you know? I really don’t give a flying inappropriate.

I’m so awfully confused …

The clocks went back somewhere between yesterday and today.

I think.

Or forward.

It’s one or the other.

Is it ‘spring forward, fall back’ or ‘fall forward, spring back’? It could be either for all the sense it makes to me. It’s 8.30 pm in new money (as it were). So is that 7.30 or 9.30 in old money? Have I lost an hour or gained? And if I want to get up at 6.30 will it be darker or lighter than before? And what time will my brain think it is? More importantly, what time will the cat think it is?

My problem is this: I’m used to considering time as a linear, entirely unidirectional phenomenon and all this argy bargy does my head in.  Cos when people say that they’re bringing a meeting forward, they actually mean they’re moving it back, in linear terms, don’t they? And if they move a meeting back, they push it forward.

I think.

I go through this twice a year, and I get just as confused every time.

I really must ask my mother if I was ever dropped on my head.

And if so, what the time was at the time.


Everyone’s a critic!

As you’ve probably gathered, I live near Stratford on Avon, so there’s always plenty of hot thespian action going on. Many’s the time I’ve stalked Anthony Sher round Marks and Spencer, trying to get a look in his shopping basket. And I believe they even put on plays as well.

Another fringe benefit is that the RSC has an education department that, periodically, puts on courses and workshops and stuff like that for children.

So, pushy mother that I am, I sent the twins along to a half-day session on Macbeth. They were about 5 or 6 at the time – obviously ready for Shakespeare – but on the way home, the conversation with my daughter went something like this:

Me: So darling, did you enjoy it? Was it fun?

Daughter: (heavy sigh) Not really. Shakespeare’s so babyish!

Me: (thinking – gosh! She’s even brighter than I thought. She’s a genius!) Babyish? Why’s that?

Daughter: Well, you know that speech they taught us, the witches’ one?

Me: What, ‘Double, double, toil and trouble’?

Daughter: Yes, that one. It’s stupid. Everyone knows there’s no such place as Toyland.

So there you are. Shakespeare’s babyish. You have it from the lips of a genius. My daughter, the literary critic.

The lengths some people will go to …

… to work in a stupid pun they just thought of!

Okay – so my kids do cooking at school (except it’s called Food Tech, which sounds far more dynamic), and this involves them lugging bags of ingredients all weighed out and measured in advance, in tiny little plastic pots – half a tsp of this and 50g of that. It’s a complete nightmare, especially since they go on the bus.

Except when it results in something a bit like this:

Which is a steamed pudding – easily accomplished in the microwave, it seems and excellent with custard, or creme Anglaise – which sounds for more food techy, doesn’t it? Anyway, it was quite a performance (er – why can’t I get this to range left?).

 We called it ‘Operation Dessert Steam’

 Oh – come on – work with me here!


So here’s what happened …

… I was going to London anyway for two Very Important Meetings. I’d sorted the childcare logistics (no small task), got a notebook and some nice sharp pencils, pulled the straw from my hair and donned my smart non-yokel outfits. Sorted!

Then, on the train, a mobile rings. And lo! It’s the BBC asking if I can do the Jeremy Vine show that very day to talk about how barmy children’s birthday parties have become, following a survey carried out by Tesco into how much people spend on party bags. Now, as it happens, the publicist had been trying to get me on for ages, all to no avail. Yet deep in the heart of the BBC there lurks a celestial creature that probably looks something like this:

I’m only speculating, mind. I’m prepared to accept that, maybe, The Divine Being wears clothes, at least to the office, instead of being bathed in radiance. Work with me here – it’s an analogy.

Anyway, TDB must have seen the report on the survey, made the link with the book, suggested I might possibly have something to say on the matter, and the rest is – er – fairly recent history. All in a pother, I cancelled the second VIM and after the first VIM (mentioned below) rushed off to Broadcasting House, trying to think of something intelligent to say. Gosh! That was hard work.

So, I arrived and was wafted through security and up in the lift to a waiting area where I sat opposite a very tall man the sight of whom, for some reason, chilled the very marrow of my bones.

Clue: imagine him with big teeth and a cloak.

As well as very tall, he’s frankly very dishy (I know!) and very nice. I can vouch for that because I went down in the lift with him afterwards!!! Oh the thrill.

I digress (and I’m getting ahead of myself). Anyway, after a long enough wait for me to start getting very nervous, I was ushered in to meet the other tall, rather scary man who also turned out to be very nice. Yes – Jeremy Vine his very self!

This photo doesn’t do him justice AT ALL, but he was wearing earphones (as was I) so this is the closest I can come to how he really truly looked at the time. (Can I just say, Jeremy, you should get some more photos done) He has this way of looking at you that very clever people sometimes do that makes you feel like a mophead, and he talks very fast, but he’s really fab!

Anyway, in the course of the interview, there was a call from a very posh-sounding woman who runs an upscale party organising company and, basically, what she said was this: childhood is far too short, children grow up so fast, (so far, so uncontentious) therefore it’s quite appropriate for parents to spend a fortune on their kids’ birthday parties to make them really special (uh oh), like one she arranged for some seven year old girls, who got to dress up in designer clothes, were made-up, taught to walk like models, did a catwalk show, had their photos taken and got to keep the clothes afterwards. (Bleeeuurgh!)

That’s really preserving childhood! Anyway, Mr Vine looked every bit as aghast as I felt at this nauseating prospect, and we shook our heads in horrified wonder.

Where was she when I was researching the book?

I’m told I came over ok – although I can’t bring myself to listen to the digital version online. Just too embarrassing to hear yourself being a mophead on primetime radio!

A grand day out …

Because certain of my avid readers can’t bear to wait a second longer to know more about the exciting and elegant lifestyle of a swanky author and media darlings, I feel compelled to let fall a few crumbs of information … see them fall!

But because I’m a little sleepy after my grand day out in London, followed by a looooong meeting (at which I pretended to understand what ‘devolved capital formula’ is) from which I’ve only just returned, all I’m going to tell you for now is that there was a plan, then a nice surprise, which led to a change our plan, then brunch with some very lovely people here, then I jumped into a taxi, got in a bit of a pother, and met two tall, famous, quite scary men, who turned out to be very nice.

Are you intrigued?

I do hope you ….

More tomorrow!