When I’m Cleaning Windows. (Not).

Strange scrabbling noises at the front of the house this morning prompted me to stick my head out of the bedroom window.

A young man with a purposeful expression was climbing up a ladder.

Now a purposeful young man on a ladder may sound promising but I hadn’t ordered one and as he was clutching a bucket and a squeegee, there was no mistaking his intention.  Some tactful questioning revealed that he was, as I suspected, a window cleaner at the wrong house.
‘Uhh, I had a few beers last night, don’t really know what I’m doing this morning,’ he said,  switching his direction to reverse and dropping his squeegee on his descent. Continue reading


Our Mix ‘n’ Match Man.

We sat in a pub, my scholarly friend and I. We sloshed our way through a bowl of pea and mint soup each. We agreed it was delicious. Then, with the man at the next table pretending he wasn’t listening, we embarked on a wistful and completely imaginary construction of our ideal lover.

We both have a penchant for the rock star look so we gave our composite lover Roger Daltrey’s face on the grounds that it was handsome yet pretty.

My scholarly friend suggested we give him Roger Daltrey’s hair to match his face but I pointed out he now has short hair (to look the part strolling round his trout farm in his muddy wellies) so we narrowed it down to Slash or Robert Plant.

I read somewhere … OK, I’ll come clean, it was on Groupiedirt.com … that Robert Plant really loves having his hair stroked. Now I would happily cleave my way through a prairie full of snakes to stroke long hair so she relented and agreed that our composite lover should be graced with Robert Plant’s golden tresses.

The man at the next table was stroking his bald patch disconsolately.. Continue reading


Too late, mate.

After two weeks of decision making, H said he was positive he wanted to abandon his A-levels and leave school.

For days we trawled through all the opportunities available for a bright 18 year old: jobs that would allow him to cuddle dogs all day; cannon fodder for the Army; being part of a dynamic, motivated team for 30p an hour in Tesco; jobs that would utilise his unwavering zombie shooting accuracy  (back to the Army idea then) ….

And I asked him several times a day, ‘Are you sure, absolutely certain, this is what you want?’ ‘Absolutely,’ he said vehemently, ‘I’m sure.’

He was so absolutely certain about jacking in school that when we gave his room a clear out, he threw all his school work into the recycling sack.

‘Oh God,’ I said, ‘are you really sure? Throwing away your school work is a huge step.’

‘Yes Mum, I’m sure. Really, really sure. Throw it all away, I don’t need it.’

I put the recycling sack outside last night for collection.

This morning, he strolled in to my room after what was obviously a sleepless night and, raising his voice over the roar and crunching of the recycling lorry outside, said: ‘Mum, if I want to change my mind, where’s all my school work?’


Found in my back yard.

Note to trans Atlantic readers: a yard is what you have at the back of your house when you’re too skint to afford a house with a garden. It has a wall just about the right height to lob things over or for a medium sized burglar to scale if he stands on his mate’s shoulders.

Although at least one gained an incompetent entry over the top of the shed, which is how I came by my least-favourite back yard find: a large swathe of roofing felt.  My son, H, and I had felted the shed roof one vile afternoon, climbing gingerly up a scary ladder then boiling our brains in the sun while we crawled round, getting holes in our knees and slapping on black gunk to stick the wretched stuff down. Seeing the results of that vile afternoon shredded on the ground induced a string of fantasies involving roofing tar and an oversized brush.

Amongst the sweetie wrappers, slugs, discarded joints, pizza boxes, condom wrappers, used fireworks and cat shit, there is the occasional inexplicable gem, such as the pile of gravel, swept underneath the gate into a neat pile. Baffled, I was.

Particularly irritating was a collection of empty mayonnaise and ketchup bottles, flung over the wall in a bitch fit by the petulant old queen who lives next door,  revenge for a myriad of misdeeds, both real and imagined, perpetrated by my son. At least that’s what the accompanying poison-pen letter said. Continue reading


Last night Alan Sugar gave me a job.

In my dreams of course.

Sir Alan Sugar gave me a job, not because I won the Apprentice or did a good interview. He just said, ‘You seem brainy and I do like your business suit, £4.99 from New Look was it? Oh go on then, have a job. Here’s a calculator and there’s your office, that big posh one over there with the glass table that’s on the telly.’ Continue reading


Wild Mouse Terror, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The Wild Mouse is an entity that sprang from the loins of Satan and its life force is sustained by the sadistic pleasure it gains from terrifying anyone daft enough to climb onto its rickety frame and into one of its little tin mouse cars.

Oh, it looks innocuous enough. Cute, even.

Like a roller coaster for beginners, the tiny, sugar-coloured cars bearing hand-painted mousy names like Jerry or Lulu or Minnie.
‘Ha!’ you say with chest-swelling bravado. ‘Ha. It’ll be a doddle, this.’ And you beckon to your family: ‘Come on folks, all aboard.’  They hop on, smiling, anticipating a few minutes of wholesome fun. And within about ten seconds, your well-adjusted, happy family is reduced to a blur of flailing limbs and anguished howls, barely audible over the hissing and rattling of the sadistic, Satanic creature. Continue reading


DIY Dentistry – Pass the Drill.

Oh chocolate.  Oh my teeth.

After years of choc-scoffing, they look like something you’d find in a corner of a junk yard where a grubby geezer sells bits of houses and the broken things dead people leave behind.

‘Oh that old heap of stones with the green slime on them? Yeah, you can ‘ave them for …’ he pauses, sniffs, wipes nose on sleeve…’ Yeah, call it a fiver, mate. No, don’t touch ’em yet, they’re a health hazard. ‘ He shouts through to the back and an unenthusiastic youth slopes through the door with his finger up his nose.
‘Yeh? Wot?’
‘Give these a wipe down will ya, Dwayne?’ Hands him a stinking cloth with dog hairs stuck to it which Dwayne duly applies. Continue reading


Putting the Rye Bread with the Pogo Sticks.

‘S’cuse me, can you tell me where the rye bread is, please?’ I asked an assistant in Tesco this morning.

There were Barbie cakes, designer loaves with a photo of the chef on the packet, nasty white sliced bread for making pot noodle sandwiches. Everything but rye bread. Muttering bread-related curses, I found said assistant arranging brown sliced loaves on the shelf  (she was doing a grand job, they looked very attractive).
‘In the next aisle,’ she said. Then, as she’d been trained, ‘I’ll show you.’ took me to the next aisle where the health food was stacked. There, teetering on top of the nuts, raisins and wheat free whatnots, was the rye bread.
‘What use is it up there?’ I spluttered. ‘It’s bread. It needs to be with all the other bread.’
‘Well it came with all this other stuff you see,’ she said slightly defensively, waving a hand at the soya drinks and the wheat-free cakes, ‘so they put it all together.’
‘But, but… surely goods should be categorised according to what they are rather than how the distributers send them out?’

By now, I was bewildered yet determined to prove my point. If there’d been a barrister’s wig and gown to hand I’d have donned them and started striding up and down, turning on my heels, interrogating and asking trick questions culminating in a triumphant, ‘I rest my case, m’lud.’

But  she wasn’t playing.  The defendant sought refuge in the universal supermarket shrug  that says ‘Dunno, I’m only the shop assistant getting paid peanuts. They can put the bread with the flippin’ dog biscuits for all I care’ and wandered off to her bread stacking leaving me with my imaginary wig and gown, baffled and irritated. Continue reading