Saturday, 28 February 2009


Croila had a post recently about a BBC article saying that out of the top 100 books, the average British citizen had read 6. I'm not quite sure what to make of that and in particular I wonder how they arrived at the "top 100", books being such a subjective and personal thing. Nonetheless I am a sucker for both lists and books, so there is no way I was going to resist this! The idea, which I have shamelessly stolen (with permission, nay encouragement from Croila) is to mark with an "x" the ones you have read. I have also noted the ones I not only genuinely intend to read but actually have in my possession in my "waiting to read" pile(s).

x Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (read multiple times, as with all Jane Austen)
x The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (umm, also multiple times)
x Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
x Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
x To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
x The Bible - well, some of it.
x Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
x Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
x His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
x Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
x Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
x Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller - In my pile, awaiting attention!
Complete Works of Shakespeare - nope, as I have already confessed. Read Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet at school, and read The Tempest to see if I liked it, but really would rather see plays performed.
x Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
x The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
x Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
x Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (hated it!)
x The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
x Middlemarch - George Eliot
Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (really? Is this a great book?)
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - on one of my piles!
x Bleak House - Charles Dickens
x War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (more than one but miss out the last chapter or two)
x The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
x Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
x Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
x The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
x Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
x David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
x Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
x Emma - Jane Austen
x Persuasion - Jane Austen
x The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Isn't that part of the Chronicles above?)
x The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (Meh)
x Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
x Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
x Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (lots and lots of times!)
x Animal Farm - George Orwell
x The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (see, top books? Don't think so!)
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
x A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
x The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
x Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
x Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
x The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
x Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Atonement - Ian McEwan
x Life of Pi - Yann Martel
x Dune - Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
x Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
x A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth (but only once - it's a BIG book!)
x The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (and again, meh. Didn't think much of it)
x A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
x Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
x The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
x Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
x The Secret History - Donna Tartt
x The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
On The Road - Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
x Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
x Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
x Dracula - Bram Stoker (another repeat read, I have a bit of a vampire thing)
x The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
x Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
Ulysses - James Joyce (tried to read Joyce, failed, never tried again)
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
Germinal - Emile Zola
x Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
x Possession - AS Byatt
x A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
x Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
The Color Purple - Alice Walker
x The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
x Charlotte’s Web - EB White
x The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
x Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
x The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton (Gosh I'd forgottern about those!)
Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
x The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (in the original French, if you please!)
x The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
x Watership Down - Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet - William Shakespeare (see above!)
x Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I make that 71. Which means that I am not the average Briton, it would appear, and also that I seem broadly to agree with the BBC about what a "top book" is. Hmmmm. I really, really don't know how I feel about that. I think I may take comfort from the fact that I have also read a fair number of books which aren't on the list and of which the Beeb would not approve!

Well, that was fun. I am off now for a cup of tea and to carry on reading a book not on the list. Feel free to join in, if you like.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

I wish I could think of interesting titles.......

Well, having read the comments on my last post it is clear that my readers are a great deal wittier (and stranger) than I am. And more versed in the ways of defeating sentient pulses on the warpath. Good to know.

On Saturday I took my life in my hands and visited not one but two toy shops. Second Born was going to a party (and then on to his friend's house for tea) so needed a present to take with him. First Born had birthday money burning a hole in his pocket, or rather his fingers as he kept wandering around with the cold, hard cash in his hand as if unable to believe his luck unless he kept the notes where he could touch them. He wanted to go and buy some serious Lego. But of course, he did not want to buy it in the shop where we were going to get SB's party gift. Oh no, that would be too simple.

So, after the ritual of breakfast, haranguing the boys into getting dressed and then sending them back upstairs again to get dressed in something clean this time, I piled both boys into the car and drove to local toy shop number one. A game was purchased and wrapped and SB driven halfway across town to be dropped off at his party. FB and I then turned around and drove to (*deep breath*) Toys R Us. My second least favourite place on Earth (my least favourite being a Katie Mellua concert, obviously). Surprisingly however, FB did not spend an hour and a half ricocheting from one aisle of coloured plastic tat to another, unable to decide what to buy. He picked a Lego set he wanted (I approve of Lego) and then bought one other thing, which was a bit frivolous but not too expensive and hey, it's his money. Can you guess what he bought? Clue: this is how he watched TV last night.

My son the Death Eater. At least he took it off to eat his dinner, other wise things could have got seriously messy.

Today, Sunday, was the first nice day we have had for some time. Husband washed the cars with the "help" of the boys which deteriorated into Husband spraying boys with the pressure washer while they ran around screaming fit to burst. Once they were a bit damp, they threw caution to the wind, filled up a bucket with cold water and spent a happy hour chucking jugfuls of water over themselves and each other. Nothing is as hilarious as pouring freezing cold water down your brother's trousers. Apparently. This is what happens when the temperature in Scotland reaches the heady heights of 7 degrees Celsius.

I spent a satsifying couple of hours pulling a huge amount of rampant plant life out of the garden. There is a particularly invasive creeper sort of plant with pretty yellow flowers which is currently choking the life out of my rosemary bush. I don't know what the yellow flower plant is but I know you can't serve it with lamb and garlic, so it had to go. I filled up the bin and have still more to pull out as well as a very tenacious buddleia which refuses to go every time we try to dig it out. Maybe I should get Isabelle round to give me some advice!

Add to the "gardening" four loads of washing, a huge pot of minted lamb casserole (First Born's favourite meal in the world, he hugged me with joy when he found me cooking it), a roast chicken and a batch of double chocolate chip cookies and it's been quite a productive day. Oh and we also discovered yesterday that the cat was not, as we thought off her food. She had been shunning the food we put down for her because it was in fact dog food! In my defence, when I bought the catfood in Sainsbury's, at the checkout we noticed the tray of tins was damaged and leaking. One of the staff went off to get a replacement for me and obviously picked up dog food instead! And we didn't notice because, well the tins look the same if you don't look too closely.
So we had to buy poor Schieffer some really nice food to make up for the affront of offering her dog food - I'm sure that's a real insult in the cat world!

Off now to have a cup of tea and one of my own cookies before the boys eat them all.

Friday, 20 February 2009

I need help

Well, you all know I need help, but today I need help on a specific topic. Namely: how do you round up lentils?

I often have a half-used pack or two of lentils in my cupboard - green for curries and red split ones for soup - in beside the couscous, bulgur wheat, rice and so on. Foodstuffs like this all have one very special skill: put a half-used bag of them in the cupboard, and by the next time you open said cupboard the bag will have miraculously climbed to the top of the shelf, balanced itself precariously on the tins of tomatoes and leaned against the inside of the door, thus ensuring that when you open the cupboard, the bag launches itself out into space and all over your kitchen. I think it's some sort of primitive survival mechanism. Maybe pulses and grains have a rudimentary intelligence, like ants or bees.

Anyway, about a week or so ago, I opened the cupboard door and the bag of red lentils did its swan dive and spilled all over the floor, the worktop, you name it. I said a few choice bad words ("Oh........Falkirk!!!!") and set to work clearing up the mess. It took me ages but I thought I had been pretty thorough.

I was wrong. Ever since, I have been spotting red lentils dotted around the house in odd places. I pick them up and dispose of them every time I see them, but I still keep seeing them. I just found one in our downstairs loo (not in the loo itself, but on the floor by the wash hand basin). Where has it been for the last 10 days? Where are they hiding? How many of them are there? Are they breeding? Am I going to be overwhelmed with lentils if I turn my back on them? Any advice?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Roundup, Now that I have time to catch my breath

Remind me how I managed to fit my life in when I worked full time, will you, because I can't for the life of me work it out. It's been a busy old week or so.

The boys went off to their friend's house for his birthday extravaganza last Saturday. From 2pm until 8pm. Woo hoo! Six hours of freedom! Which we used to the full by......hanging out in the house, doing a bit of shopping and...erm, that's it. Never let it be said that we don't know how to party.

On Sunday my ex-brother-in-law came over to see the boys and we ended up going over to the park for a kick about with a football. Husband, who is violently allergic to football, played his usual position of team photographer. He is still getting to grips with our new video camera so made good use of the time by filming us all lurching around in the mud. Do you know anything that is worse than seeing yourself on film playing football with your children in all your ungainly, wobbly glory? Because I do. Seeing yourself playing football IN SLOW MOTION. Every flabby ripple captured for posterity. Husband did at least have the good grace (ie good sense) to delete the worst bit. At least, he said he did......

Since the children were on half term holiday (half term already!) they spent Monday and Tuesday morning with my sister in law and her partner, which the boys absolutely loved. A trip was taken to Ikea for breakfast - apparently, Ikea does really good breakfasts. Who knew? I thought they only did bookshelves called things like Blegvast. Anyway, Second Born managed to score a couple of new cuddly toys to add to the 394 he already has sharing his bed. A sort of patchwork-y guinea pig which has been christened Marvin, and a very convincing plush brown rat which has been named Katrina and which is now married to his rat glove puppet, Ratty Guy. Katrina didn't seem to have much of a choice in the matter and I'm a bit concerned that I have inadvertently become involved in an arranged marriage. She seems happy enough mind you, since as a newcomer she is at the top of the cuddly toy pile that SB sleeps with.

First Born's birthday was this week, on Wednesday. He is 11, which I find hard to believe. He asked for and received an iPod as a birthday present. We are now firmly in that area where children's birthday presents come in very very small boxes, don't fill your living room with acres of coloured plastic but do cost enormous amounts of money. I spent a fair bit of time putting FB's preferred music on to the iPod (having first wrangled iTunes back on to a new computer) and that was an interesting experience. I hadn't quite realised what weird music taste we have incubated in our son. His playlist at the moment includes: Chucky Danger Band (indie band from PEI), Kraftwerk, Kaiser Chiefs, Great Big Sea, Gary Numan, Boney M, The Beatles, Bugs Bunny and Friends Sing the Beatles, Rainbow, Ganymede and Johnny Cash. Diverse is the word I think.

I also had to make his birthday cake. This year the requested design was a suicidal bunny. Anyone with a son around the age of 10 won't be surprised at this, but I appreciate the rest of you might be a tad disconcerted. "The Book of Bunny Suicides" is a cartoon book much in favour with young boys at the moment. Hence FB's cake featured a cartoon rabbit with an arrow through its head. And a certain amount of red icing blood. He loved it and insisted that his slice should have the rabbit's face on it. I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

And that brings us to this evening. We have been watching the first episode of the new Billy Connolly series where he travels around the North West Passage. But for the first episode he starts out in Halifax, visits Lunenburg, New Brunswick, Cape Breton and then on to Newfoundland. Husband and I have alternately been shouting "We've been there, that's the scarecrow farm!" and just sighing at the sight of bits of our favourite part of the world. Roll on July. I might have to go and console myself with a slice of suicidal bunny.

Saturday, 14 February 2009


I'm getting old. My eyesight is at that stage where I have to confess that it is painful to try to read something held too close to my eyes but if I move it further away I can't read the small print. The work printouts I use at my new job are so small that I have taken to enlarging them on the photocopier before I settle down at the computer. I am however still reluctant to give in and get glasses as I am convinced that once I do that, my eyes will sort of shout "Thank God!" and give up trying, and I'll have to wear glasses for everything and I will constantly lose them and half my life will be spent trying to find my glasses unless I get one of those chains to hang them around my neck in which case I end up looking like one half of Hinge & Bracket.

Which brings me to the other thing I am noticing more often, which is the way my memory works. Or more accurately, doesn't. Today in Sainsbury's car park I was loading my shopping into the boot when a car stopped beside me and the lady in the passenger seat asked me if I knew where Dunelm Mills was (this is a shop. I have no idea what it sells but I know where it is.)

I said sure, and proceeded to tell her to drive straight along the road in front of us until she saw Pets At Home and JJB sports, drive between them and Halfords, then take a right turn by Carphone Warehouse, opposite McDonalds, drive past TK Maxx and Laura Ashley and they'd find it. She thanked me and drove off.

And I wondered why it was that I had clearly memorised the location and names of a number of shops I NEVER GO INTO such that I could recall them instantly, whereas most of the time I can't remember the names of people I work with, what the important errand I was supposed to run was or where I have left my car keys.

What's more, I have discovered that I have a huge library of song lyrics stored in my brain which I can access instantly. It is normally about 3pm when I drive to pick up the boys from school and on Radio 2 at that time (I am definitely too old for Radio 1) Steve Wright plays a run of golden oldies. And I can sing along with virtually all of them. Last week I sang along with Neil Diamond to "Love on the Rocks" and I was word perfect. I don't think I have heard that song for about 30 years, so how come I can give a flawless rendition of that with no effort when I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the woman who lives at number 6 in our street and who has sent us Christmas cards for the past 10 years?

There should be some gizmo you can buy to sort of de-frag your brain the way you do with the computer hard drive. Something that would let you decide whether you could safely delete your perfect recall of Rick Astley's back catalogue and the scripts of every episode of "Friends" ever made and thus free up some space for important stuff like remembering to wash your children's clothes so they have clean underwear (not that the elder of my children particularly cares about such things). If such a gadget exists, I want it for my birthday. Or maybe next Christmas. (I really really want a Wii Fit for my birthday.)

I obey master......

I am naturally lazy but also obedient. And I am XUP's blog slave. As you can see over on the right. (This doesn't mean I have updated my blog reading list generally, I hasten to add. I'm still lazy)

Thursday, 12 February 2009

I wish I could explain this

My children are singing about turnips. Constantly. It's a bit disconcerting.

Last weekend apparently I fell asleep in the afternoon for a little while. We were having one of those family hugs-that-almost-turn-into-a-wrestling-match-until-someone-gets-hit-or-kicked-or-punched-and-it-all-goes-terribly-wrong and I was comfy enough in my position on the couch that I dozed off on my husband. The menfolk of the family amused themselves while I snored slumbered peacefully by singing a variety of songs. And replacing the lyrics with their own versions, featuring turnips. No, I don't know why. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The freaky bit came on Monday morning in the car on the way to school when all three males in the car suddenly burst into "Breakfast in America" by Supertramp. You know, the one that goes "Take a look at my turnip, Cos it's the only one I got. Not much of a turnip, I never seem to get a lot...." The interesting part is that, despite the fact I was unaware of where this came from, it did not faze me at all - impromptu songs about root vegetables at 8am? Quite normal.

The boys are on half term tomorrow and are being palmed off on my sister-in-law (who lives over the road) for the morning which they are very much looking forward to. They are going to hang out in her house, watching DVDs, playing games and writing stories. So basically doing exactly what they do in our house, but doing it about 100 yards to the south. Which makes all the difference.

And in the best news I have had for ages, Shauna kindly told me that Focus (you remember Focus don't you?) are playing in Glasgow again in April and I managed to book tickets this evening. And this time we booked for dinner too so we can have a seat (because we are getting on a bit) and have our dinner while watching the weirdly entertaining Whimwise before getting up and dancing to Dutch prog rock. A splendid evening in prospect, even better if we get to have a pint of fizzy pop with Shauna and the legendary Dr G!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I confess I am intrigued

Spotted this morning on the school run, in the window of a first floor flat in South Edinburgh: a large white sign with black lettering reading "Don't phone John today".

Why not? Is this a request or a threat? And who was it intended for? Do John's mates routinely trek round to his house to check on his phoneability status before daring to call him? What does he do if they phone anyway? Hasn't he ever heard of voicemail? Has no-one shown him how to switch his phone off? Or unplug it? I mean if he is hungover or something so that even the sound of the phone ringing is unacceptable, there are other ways of dealing with the situation that don't involved notices in the front window.

Or is it maybe a warning to any telemarketers who happen to be wandering past? Because if that is the intention, someone needs to tell John to put his sign up in India or Milton Keynes or somewhere more likely to host a call centre than the leafy suburbs of south Edinburgh.

I really want to know, dammit.

Monday, 9 February 2009

It's all about me!!!!!!!

I know I have done the interview thing already but....but......Isabelle offered to ask me another 5 questions and I thought they would be interesting (since she has actually met me in the flesh and is therefore well placed to expose my foibles) and since I am nothing if not excruciatingly egocentric honest and forthcoming, here goes:

1.Why did you never think you would have a husband, sons and a cat? I’ve met you and you’re lovely! I would have predicted that you’d have all those sorts of things.

The little blurb at the top of my blog really harks back to the joyous teenager I once was. I'm not saying that I thought I would never find someone to marry, more that I was once absolutely adamant that marriage was so-o-o-o old fashioned that I would never be so crushingly dull and conventional. As far as the sons are concerned, that was a straightforward case of not liking children. At all. I never really played with dolls as a child, never did the babysitting thing as a teenager and by the time I was working, mine was the office that new mums bringing their babies in to visit their work colleagues simply missed out entirely. If they approached me with their new born bundle of joy, I would back away in horror as if they were offering me a bucket of anthrax. Babies made me squirm. Toddlers made me nervous. When Husband and I got engaged, I agreed I would keep an open mind, but made no promise beyond that. By the time I gave birth to First Born, I had held a baby precisely once. For about a minute when I visited a friend in hospital after she had her first. Boy, that was a steep learning curve! And last but not least, the cat. Very boring - I had never had a cat and a pet would interfere with my lifestyle jetting about the world doing something terribly important and worthy. However, Husband loves cats although he is allergic to them but we got one anyway (practice for children, perhaps?). Catface (yes, that was her name) was lovely and was later joined by Schieffer who is prettier but dumber than Catface ever was.
I think what the blurb is really getting at is that my life has turned out very differently to what I would have wished and predicted when I was, say, 18. Thankfully.

2.How similar in personality are your boys to each other? Give details.

For the most part, chalk and cheese. First Born is all up front. What you see is what you get. He is bouncing-on-the-spot happy when he is happy and when he is disappointed, he looks like a cartoon drawing of disappointment. He wears his heart on his sleeve and then surrounds it in flashing neon. He is affectionate, charging up to you for impromptu cuddles (and nearly knocking you over in the process - he is nearly 11, and solidly built!). He doesn't give a hoot about how he looks and would wear the same clothes every day if left to his own devices. Showering is a dreadful imposition on his freedom dreamt up by adults to torture him. He has a temper which is spectacular to see but it blows over quickly. He doesn't make friends of his own age easily but adults who know him tend to love him. He is not sporty but he is creative and could talk for Britain. He tends to have obsessions which take over his waking life (probably his sleeping life too, I would guess, but I can't vouch for that.)

Second Born is a more calculating animal. He thinks a lot more about things and considers the angles more. If you were being harsh, you could say he can be devious. He is sharp and witty, the king of one-liners. He will cuddle you, but only on his terms and only when it suits him. He is very conscious of his appearance - seriously, he is an asset on a shopping trip. He likes to pick his own clothes and usually makes a better job of it than I would have. He also has an eye for a bargain (he founds jeans when we were on holiday in Canada a couple of years ago for $3 a pair!) He will change outfits several times a day if he is allowed to and will voluntarily shower twice a day if he has the time. His dearest wish is for me to buy him hair gel. He is stubborn. Oh my goodness, is he stubborn. He will adopt a position, even if it is diametrically opposed to what is in his own interests and will. not. budge. If he has a temper tantrum (and he often still does at the age of 8) he has to be ignored and allowed to storm off and then slink back unnoticed. Any attempt to - God forbid! - TALK to him during this period will be met by more histrionics. He can be very kind and thoughtful. He will buy little presents for Husband or FB with his pocket money. If he is in the mood. And he loves LOVES the cat and is loved in return. He is sporty, makes friends easily and swims naturally in the pool that is school, throwing out the occasional lifebelt to his less agile elder brother.

If you believe in reincarnation, you would believe that Second Born has been round the block a few times, he is an old soul who has seen it all and done it all before and knows all the tricks. First Born on the other hand, is brand spanking shiny and new, fresh out of the box. This is his first time round and it is all interesting, all exciting and most of the time he hasn't a clue what is going on. Life is a mysterious and unfathomable thing to him.

As brothers do, they fight and argue constantly, but are so close that the worst punishment I can threaten to inflict is to separate them. I hope they stay that way.

3.What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

It really really doesn't matter what other people think. And all those people who are giving you such a hard time just now and whose opinion you so value? In 2 years time you will no longer know them, and they won't matter. You will meet one of the "Queen Bee" girls again in about 5 years' time when you are working in a solicitor's office and she comes in as a junior typist. You will be too busy to notice much and certainly won't have the energy or inclination to gloat. Oh, and you are going to get married and you are going to have kids. Deal with it.

4.You write very amusingly. Tell us about a book/film/tv programme/etc that you yourself find funny.

Difficult to answer because it depends on my mood. Silly films make me giggle - think Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, or TV shows like Police Squad (which we have just introduced the boys to and they think is hilarious). Stephen Fry can do no wrong. Eddie Izzard's stand up makes me laugh. In terms of books, again it depends on my mood. I sniggered to myself through most of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series of books. Christopher Brookmyre's books also make me laugh because his humour is just so Scottish - and I mean Irn Bru and a bridie from Greggs Scottish, rather than tartan and shortbread Scottish. I would say the same about Iain Banks's non-science fiction books. Oh, and Saki's short stories. Love those. And I defy you to read The Uxbridge English Dictionary (from the wonderful R4 series I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue) without snorting up a lung.

5.You’ve been marooned on a desert island by a pirate but fortunately he’s allowed you to choose one (non-useful) luxury. What is it?

Do books count as a luxury? I can't imagine retaining my sanity without something to read. If it had to be just one book, I might just go mad trying to decide which one to pick, mind you. Maybe one of those groovy electronic books with an entire library in the memory? Is that cheating?

As always, feel free to join in if you want to! (I am always happy to pester people I barely know with questions!)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

More randomness....randomosity.......stuff

"Ah good!" I hear you all cry. "Loth has been rummaging around in the bloggy equivalent of her scraps basket and has found another post she wrote eons ago and forgot about!" Yes, dear readers. Yes I have. What does it say about my brain that I write this stuff and then completely erase it from my mind? It was obviously such a wonderful piece of prose that I was overcome with the emotion of producing it and went off to have a lie down instead of hitting "publish". Or something. Specific apologies (rather than the general type which to out to all of you for having to put up with this tosh) go to Mummy Dearest who tagged me for this almost a year ago. *Hangs head in shame*

I was tagged for this by Mummy Dearest who kindly thought I might appreciate a hand out of the Slough of Non-blogging-ness. As indeed I do. Basically she is looking for 15 things: Facts, Goals and Random. Here goes.

1. Fact - I used to be pretty fluent in both French and German. Now I am not. This is a great waste which I regret, hugely. We used to get French and German TV on cable and watching "Star Trek" dubbed into German was great fun.

2. Goal - Dull boring one, I want to lose the bit enormous amount of weight I gained back over the last year or so and then some more. No less worthy for being dull though.

3. Random - my cat doesn't meow. She squeaks. We think she thinks that's how people talk and she is trying to humour us.

4. Fact - I spent some time in Saudi Arabia when I was growing up. Glad I got the chance to see the place, never really want to see it again.

5. Goal - I want to go up in a hot air balloon one day. I am not great with unsecured heights, by which I mean I am fine on top of the CN tower where I know I can't fall off but you won't catch me standing anywhere near the edge of a cliff, so I might freak out just a bit, but I still really want to do it.

6. Random - I cannot stand the sound of someone using sandpaper or a stiff scrubbing brush - they both sound the same to me and the noise sets my teeth on edge. This is not, as my husband may have suspected in the past, a way of getting out of sanding down walls prior to decorating. It just happens to have that unforeseen and fortunate side effect.

7. Fact - I don't like eating meat or poultry off the bone - stuff like chicken drumsticks - it's just too carniverous for me. Don't get me wrong, I like to eat meat. As long as someone else has done the hard work. I am a scruple-free lazy carnivore.

8. Goal - I would like to figure out what I want to do for a living when I grow up. Before I, you know, retire.

9. Random - I have very little sense of smell. I am a bad person to have around if there is a gas leak.

10. Fact - I have the world's worst memory for faces. If I have ever met you in person, the next time I see you, I will probably walk right past you, particularly if I meet you out of context. At best, I will know that I know you from somewhere but will be unable to recall where. You could easily be a former client, a relative, someone who once served me in a sandwich shop or a bit part actor in Eastenders. Well that last one is a lie, actually, as I don't watch Eastenders.

11. Goal - to improve my memory (see 10)

12. Random - I hate anyone touching my feet. Seriously, want to torture me? Book me a pedicure.

13. Fact - I spent 5 years at secondary school never going to the toilet (at least during school hours). For anyone who was a "snob" (ie good at schoolwork) the toilets were dangerous places to go, so I learned not to go. Sixth year was ok - prefects had their own toilet and EVERYONE in sixth year was a prefect - not many of us made it that far!

14. Goal - I want to see my children grown up, happy and settled. Or if they are not settled, for that to be their choice (eg they are exploring the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Or space. Or engaged in world lecture tours after accepting their Nobel Prizes.)

15. Random - I wish I could learn to be less neurotic socially. I always fret and worry when in company that I am boring the pants off the people I am with. I am pathetically poor at social interaction - if I attend a function where people are circulating and chatting (as I sometimes have to for work), I nearly always end up clutching a drink as if it were a lifebelt, hovering on the fringes, too scared to join in a conversation. Like I said, pathetic really.

Well, having got that off my chest I tag anyone who is in need of blog fodder. Go to it.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


Since becoming a lady of leisure going part-time at work and taking over child care and miscellaneous household duties, I have been to Halfords twice. (For the non-British among you, Halfords is a big chain store that sells car-type stuff - accessories, spare bulbs, new windscreen wipers, that sort of thing.)

The first time was pretty mundane. A taxi driver nearly ended up in my back seat when I stopped at a junction and he politely informed me that my brake lights were out. I trundled off to Halfords to buy £2 worth of bulbs and £5 worth of a young man to fit them for me. I am rubbish at practical car type issues and don't mind playing dumb when it comes to stuff like that. Worth every penny.

The second time, a day or two later, I went to pick up some very exclusive, not to mention expensive, German car polish. And some special lint-free cloths for applying same. "Ah," I hear you think. "Loth has time on her hands now. She is going to clean and polish the family's dented, bashed and rapidly rusting VW." And what's more she is going to try to maintain the startling level of cleanliness of the second car which she has inherited back from her mother and which Loth's mum has been cleaning to her exacting standards. (In other words, it is cleaner than any part of my house by a factor of at least ten.)

Or perhaps you think "Loth is settling into her childcare/part-time worker/housewife mode and Husband has decided to fulfif his gender stereotype and will be spending Saturday mornings washing and polishing the car whilst chatting to the neighbours about the weather."

But no. Neither of those scenarios bear any resemblance to the truth. For, in case you were wondering, I can confirm that it is in fact very difficult to get any kind of a shine on an inch-thick crust of mud and dried road salt such as that sported by our car. The polish is in fact for Husband's beloved guitars. Apparently, ultra-expensive German car polish is the very dab for sprucing up your headstock. So now you know. Yeah, the girl in Halfords looked at me weirdly too.