If Only I Had a Brain

So, it turns out that staring at a blank computer screen for one hundred and thirty-seven consecutive hours is not the best way to get ideas. Why did nobody tell me? 

I figured this out for myself eventually. Only five and a half days wasted.

Jusmeh recently asked me “Where do you find the inspiration for your blogs?” H’mm, let me see…

LIFE IS THE ANSWER

An unfortunate home hair dying incident when I was seventeen resulted in me adorning hats for the entire summer of 1999. This seemed a fitting tale to include in my post I Really Should Have Thought This Through, which, much to my delight embarrassment was Freshly Pressed in February.

Just to reiterate: I still don’t know whether blondes have more fun, but I can verify that oranges certainly do not. 

A few months ago, I noticed a sweet little girl on the bus, with big brown eyes, short curly auburn hair and a cheeky grin. She turned to her mother and said “When I grow up mummy, I want to be a tomato”. Quite clearly a god ‘dam genius – she inspired my post Think Different.

I have been unable to eat a tomato ever since. 

My brother Oli recently invited me for Sunday lunch. A prospect that would have filled me with joy, if it wasn’t for the fact his latest pancake attempt looked like scrambled eggs and he referred to his colander as coriander. I survived though and had lots of new material for my post “I Just Found a Chicken Bone in My Cheesecake. Is That Bad?

Thank you brother. Your thrice microwaved chicken was delicious. 

A couple of weeks ago, I decided it would be a brilliant idea to walk three miles home in four inch heels. Turns out – it wasn’t.

I ended up in agony, with several blisters and one less toe. My post This Season I Shall Mostly Be Wearing Slippers was born. 

If only I had a brain.

Oh Dear Diaries…

I have spoken before about the trauma I suffered aged six, when my brother Chris decapitated my beloved Tiny Tears doll. It is fair to say that none of us were ever the same again:

– Chris realised he should never mess with his little sister – due to her nifty right hook.

– I learnt to hide stuff from my brothers that I didn’t want damaged / maimed / beheaded.

– Tiny Tears developed a new-found appreciation for polo neck tops.

I became exceptionally good at concealing my possessions after Tiny Tearsgate, 1989. Anything of value or sentiment was stowed away in a safe place, until I left home at the age of eighteen. This included, though was not exclusive to:

– A second-hand paperback copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, purchased for fifteen pence.

– My extensive Pog collection.

– One hundred high quality fibre-tipped colouring pens.

– Three mixed tapes of Boyzone, Peter Andre, the Spice Girls, and Backstreet Boys.

– My top secret, highly confidential, tell-all diaries, that I began writing in 1995, at the             tempestuous age of twelve.

With impressive foresight at just fourteen, I acknowledged that I’d probably look back on my diaries in years to come and laugh. I may have underestimated just how much.

Here are some highlights from the last seventeen years in the life of me.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent:

11/05/1997 SECONDARY SCHOOL: Everything in this diary seemed to have a point to it when I wrote it. That’s why I refuse to look back and cross stuff out. Even the really embarrassing stuff about fancying Dave from my Maths class and cutting my own fringe. Again.

27/12/1997 SECONDARY SCHOOL: New Year’s Resolutions for 1998

  1. I will slap the next person who says I fancy Dave, because I don’t.
  2. I will tidy my room at some point this year.
  3. I will keep my room tidy for at least a week.
  4. I will stop worrying so much about how I look.
  5. I will marry Ronan Keating.

30/12/1998 SECONDARY SCHOOL: New Year’s Resolutions for 1999

  1. I will cut down on chips and chocolate, eat my greens and drink more milk.
  2. I will either slap or kiss Smith for being such a git.
  3. I will snog any (well, just about any) boy who offers.
  4. I will not take my mobile to school for the sole purpose of showing off. Well, maybe.

11/05/2000 COLLEGE: Oh fudge. I tried to pluck my eyebrows to make them look better, but now it’s a case of “Eyebrows? What eyebrows?” Will have to draw them on with pencil until further notice. Note to self: step away from the tweezers.

11/03/2001 COLLEGE: 

21/06/2001 COLLEGE: Have opted to come down with food poisoning on Friday. Not actual food poisoning, but this is my brilliant plan to get out of work. I am brilliant.

30/11/2001 UNIVERSITY: Nothing to report apart from my slow spiralling descent into madness.

“I didn’t lose my mind; it was mine to give away.” Robbie Williams.

11/02/2002 UNIVERSITY: This afternoon was highly productive. I finally mastered the art of reading half a book and blagging the fact I read the whole thing. It’s a talent. One I am proud of and grateful for.

19/04/2002 UNIVERSITY: My plans to go into Uni today were scuppered by an overwhelming desire to sit at home on my bed and highlight stuff. Very important stuff; naturally.

22/04/2003 UNIVERSITY: 

13/08/2003 UNIVERSITY: Mental note: Everything happens for a reason and anything pants that seems to crush you at the time, just makes you stronger in the end. H’mm, that’s very phylosophical of me for a Thursday afternoon. Must learn to spell phylosophycal philospohycal philosophical.

19/10/2003 UNIVERSITY: Am so proud of me! Have spent the entire day doing boring Postmodernism coursework. All something to do with hyperreality. Very confusing. Despite having written 2,503 words, I still don’t understand it. This does not bode well for the ‘A’ grade I was hoping for.

29/11/2004 UNIVERSITY: Momentous occasion: Handed in my dissertation. *Takes a bow*.

03/10/2005 POST-UNIVERSITY: An ode to Tony: “When I fall in love, it will be forever”. Thank you Nat King Cole. 

Note to self: Must put prophetic talents to good use. A winning lottery ticket would be a great start.

To This Day, I Have No idea What We Were Thinking

I first committed fraud at the tender age of eleven, obtaining property by deception. The item in question: one child’s lucky bag.

Just to clarify – I did not steal the lucky bag; I merely purchased it under false pretences. That doesn’t however make this story any less embarrassing. Allow me to explain:

Lucky bags generally contain a mixture of vile tasting sweets, a miniature colouring book, one defective toy (usually a whistle or yoyo) and an extensive palette of three (yes, three) crayons.

At four years old, this would have kept me occupied for at least three days. I’d use the crayons for the Wassily Kandinsky homage on my bedroom wall, and then eat them for lunch. If there were any remnants left over – I usually stored them in my left nostril for later use. Beyond the age of eight however – lucky bags lost their appeal and suddenly seemed extremely lame.

At eleven years old, my best friend and I decided to be VERY cool and rebellious by purchasing candy cigarettes and pretending to smoke them in the park. The trouble was, we both also had a hankering for lucky bags that day – which quite frankly, at eleven, was social suicide. 

We took our chosen items to the counter and to avoid embarrassment, made a point of telling the cashier very loudly that the lucky bags were for our younger sisters and most definitely not for us, because we were like waaay too old for them. (I don”t even have a sister). Much to our surprise and delight – she didn’t bat an eye lid. It dawns on me now that this was because:

  1. We both looked seven years old.
  2. She did not care.

We paid for our items, and swiftly fled the scene of our crime. To this day, I have no idea what we were thinking. I certainly had no need for a broken whistle.

I’m sorry to say that was only the start of my life of crime. At sixteen years old, I managed to acquire a fake ID. I was utterly convinced that I could pass myself off as a thirty-two year old beautiful Latino woman called Carmelita Chiquita Estevez.

Apparently not.

When I Fall in Love

Now I do not wish to boast, but I have been blessed with an extraordinary ability to trip over my own feet. This is yet to deter me from dancing. 

I vividly remember my first school disco. It took place in the summer of 1991; I was eight years old and the pressure was on to look spectacular – so I decided against wearing my usual turquoise shell suit, psychedelic slap bracelet and scuffed plimsoles.

My chosen dress was floral, frilly and adorned with bows. It complemented my favourite Alice band beautifully. Jelly shoes were a must, as were cycling shorts, beneath said dress to prevent inadvertent knicker flashing.

I accessorised with a plethora of friendship bracelets, my beloved Mickey Mouse watch and a Minnie Mouse purse (in which I stored my cherry flavoured roll-on lip-gloss). For my hair – I opted for very high pigtails, tied with purple ribbon. If the elastic hadn’t snapped in one of my knee-high socks, then my overall look would have been flawless.

Uneven socks aside – the disco was fabulous! My two left feet and I danced the night afternoon away with friends and loved every minute! I drank orange squash with wild abandon and made the most of the complimentary nibbles. I also learnt a lot in those few short hours:

1. I was in desperate need of air guitar lessons.

2. “When the working day is done, girls just want to have fun”. (Cyndi Lauper)

3. “If you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss”. (Cher)

4. “I’m not gonna spend my life bein’ a colour”. (Michael Jackson)

I fell in love with music that day. Years on and my illicit affair with it continues.

When my husband Tony and I first started dating and I was getting ready to go out – I used to listen to music in my room. There was one song in particular that struck a chord – and I played it over and over again. It’s a bit old-school, but I simply adored the sentiment:

I didn’t mentioned this to Tony at the time, but four years later, after we got engaged (and I knew for certain that he felt the same way) I told him that I used to listen to a song called “When I Fall in Love”. He immediately burst into song. Just not the one I was referring to:

If you watch the video from 2:14 to 2:48 you’ll see the particular snippet of this musical masterpiece Tony serenaded me with.

I laughed until I cried. 

He’s definitely a keeper.

I am a Genius (Einstein Said So)

After several failed attempts, involving one giant paper aeroplane, thirty-six helium balloons, a home-made tea towel cape and a regrettable leap of faith from my best friend’s swing set, it became apparent to me at a young age that I was not meant to fly.

Over the last twenty-nine years, I have also realised:

1. My tree climbing talents are pretty much on par with that of a goldfish, and as such I am unlikely to ever become an Olympic Gymnast.

2. Despite my love of snow, snowballs, snow angels and snowmen, I once got so cold and wet playing in the white stuff that I cried for three hours and wished my fingers would fall off. The Polar Expedition I had planned with my brothers, Rainbow Brite and Kermit the Frog was swiftly called off.

3. Someone put salt in the sea and it doesn’t taste very nice. As such, there is simply no way I will be able to swim the Atlantic, solo, coated in goose fat – as hoped. Devastated.

4. I was conned. My invisibility dust turned out to be run-of-the-mill glitter. I not only failed to steal the cookie jar unnoticed, but left a sparkly path in my wake. Cat burglar I am not.

5. Despite fine-tuning a professional pout; my total inability to give up chicken wings is probably to blame for the downfall of my modelling career. (When I say “the downfall of”, I mean “my totally nonexistent”). Nando’s have a lot to answer for.

After so many setbacks, failures, fractures and disappointments in my life – I’d probably be justified in thinking that I belong on the scrapheap, along with cassette tapes, floppy disks, Charlie Sheen and Justin Bieber. But, no. Occasionally (and I mean very occasionally) I have a moment of brilliance, which compensates for the fact I cannot fly:

After four fabulous and thoroughly loved-up years together, in the summer of 2009, Tony finally did the decent thing and got down on one knee at a local beauty spot and asked me to marry him. I squealed a little, cried a lot, leapt on him with delight, eventually remembered to say “yes” and then proceeded to fall down a rabbit hole. Needless to say – I was overjoyed. Within a week of our engagement I began to think of ideas for a suitably outstanding wedding gift for him. I mean EPIC. (Cufflinks were not an option).

Aside from me and rib-eye steak, one of the greatest loves of Tony’s life is Premiership football team Manchester United. So over the next two years I secretly sent 165 letters to 142 Manchester United players (past and present) in over half a dozen countries and many of them wrote back. I managed to collate over sixty-five autographs and best wishes on personalised Wedding Day greetings cards from some epic legends – including Ryan Giggs, Peter Schmeichel, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Bill Foulkes, Nobby Stiles, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. I compiled them in an album for him to open on the morning of our wedding day. He says he didn’t cry when he saw it, but I like to think he did. 

Post Honeymoon, Tony took said album into the office with him. I received this email from a senior work colleague that afternoon. It made me smile: 

I’m with Einstein on this; everybody is a genius. You just have to unlock the potential from within – and realise that thirty-six helium balloons will be insufficient to power your flight to the moon. Several hundred on the other hand…

“Wax on, Wax off” and Other Words of Wisdom from the Silver Screen

Along with my house keys, odd socks and random bits of fluff – I often find wisdom in the most unlikely of places:

“WAX ON, WAX OFF”. Karate Kid  

Mister Miyagi coupled housework with martial arts training. He also caught flies with chopsticks.  Someone give him a medal. 

“IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON’T SAY NOTHIN’ AT ALL”. Bambi

As an English graduate, it pains me to see such poor grammar, but I’ll let Thumper off, on account of him being a rabbit.   

“I RECOMMEND ROLLING AROUND IN POND SCUM”. An interview with Kermit the Frog (star of the Silver Screen) 

“IT AIN’T ABOUT HOW HARD YOU HIT, IT’S ABOUT HOW HARD YOU CAN GET HIT AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD”. Rocky Balboa

Alternatively, you could just find a nice quiet office job.

“DO, OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY”. The Empire Strikes Back 

For a creature that looks like a frog who ingested toxic waste as a tadpole, Yoda is surprisingly insightful. 

“DON’T EVER LET SOMEBODY TELL YOU, YOU CAN’T DO SOMETHING*…YOU GOT A DREAM, YOU GOTTA PROTECT IT…YOU WANT SOMETHING, YOU GO GET IT”. The Pursuit of Happyness

*Exceptions to this rule include:

  • Having Pikachu tattooed on your inner thigh.
  • Wearing orange.
  • Dying your hair green and then getting it cut into a mullet.
  • Anything whatsoever to do with Justin Bieber.

“BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE”. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

This statement also excludes Justin Bieber. 

“DREAMS DO COME TRUE, IF ONLY WE WISH HARD ENOUGH”. Peter Pan

I always dreamt of finding love – and look what I found!

It has become apparent however that I have so far neglected to dream hard enough for Adele’s voice or Pippa Middleton’s bottom.  Note to self: Must try harder.

Train Etiquette for those Less Travelled

I have decided to masquerade as someone very busy and important on this train by tapping away on my laptop. I am pretty sure however that if my ripped jeans and Primani snow boots don’t give me away, then my David Beckham screensaver will.  Nonetheless, I shall continue in vain, as the gentleman to my right really wants to talk to me – and his breath smells of feet.

I feel that I’ve learnt a lot about train etiquette on this brief four and a half hour journey. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it goes a little something like this:

BEFORE YOU PURCHASE YOUR TICKET – ENSURE YOU SMELL OF FEET.

WHEN BOARDING YOUR TRAIN – IGNORE ALL INSTINCTS TO BE POLITE AND/OR CONSIDERATE IN ANY WAY. It’s every man (and woman) for themselves. Pushing and shoving are actively encouraged. A swift elbow to the face should render any assailant unconscious. Where possible – arm yourself with a large umbrella / bicycle / Rottweiler.

IF YOU FEEL THE NEED TO HOLD A PRIVATE CONVERSATION ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE (REALLY LOUDLY) HEAD TO THE QUIET ZONE. They’ll love you.

MAKE SURE YOU DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS BEFORE EMBARKING ON YOUR JOURNEY. You’ll get to experience the delightful facilities that your train network provider has to offer: A door that does not lock, loo roll as soft as sandpaper and a flush powerful enough to evacuate your colon.

BE OVERTLY RUDE TO THE TICKET INSPECTOR. He’s a lesser human being than you after all and therefore doesn’t warrant any courtesy or respect.

MID-MORNING – EAT SOMETHING INTOXICATING, LIKE AN EGG MAYONNAISE SANDWICH. The wondrous odour will engulf your entire carriage and everyone will think you are wonderful for sharing.

IF YOU NEGLECTED TO BRING A SNACK WITH YOU – FEAR NOT. So long as you’re willing to remortgage your house, then the onboard catering staff will happily sell you a Mars bar.

HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS? THEN COUGH, SNEEZE AND SPLUTTER. Do so with wild abandon and without tissues – preferably in the face of someone who is eight foot tall, extremely hairy, adorned with piercings and has “HATE” tattooed across her knuckles.

DON’T HOG YOUR MUSIC COLLECTION. Set your MP3 player’s default setting to maximum volume. If you haven’t perforated an eardrum, then it’s too quiet.  Of course the world will share your love of Van Halen / Mozart / Westlife / Justin Bieber.

WHEN ACCOMPANIED BY YOUNG CHILDREN, ENSURE THEY HAVE NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO KEEP THEMSELVES OCCUPIED. For goodness sake – don’t give them a colouring book, or feed them slices of mango – you’ll only show all of the other parents up. Feed them a giant sausage roll, family sized bag of Haribo, some Monster Munch and a gallon of full fat Coke. That’ll keep them happy. By kicking, screaming and pulling the hair of innocent bystanders they are merely “testing the boundaries” and such behaviour should be commended. Reward them with more sweets. If they do misbehave – also give them sweets.

BE NICE TO THE CRAZY WOMAN ON HER LAPTOP, WITH THE RIPPED JEANS, PRIMANI SNOW BOOTS AND DAVID BECKHAM SCREENSAVER. She’s probably writing about you.