Mackerel and its Part in my Downfall: Part 2.

After the fishing trip in Tenby, mackerel played no part in my life until many years later when a boyfriend –let’s call him Tarquin – took me to meet his mother.

Tarquin was a lumbering, rugby playing chap who clowned around a lot.  He had a clutch of posh, amiable siblings, with names like Montgomery, Araminta and Rupert, unfortunately absent on the day of our visit.  I believe there was a step father too but he too was nowhere to be seen when we visited. Probably cowering under a bed somewhere, sucking his thumb.

Because Mrs Tarquin was terrifying. Continue reading


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


Wot Badge?

Trip Advisor keep emailing me. They say they’ll give me a badge when I’ve done 5 reviews.

Now I don’t wish to appear ungrateful but the last time I ever had the urge to acquire a badge was many years ago. Put it this way, I was still at the age where I was troubled by double Maths on a Friday afternoon.

I had a stack of badges on my school blazer and they all had things like Anarchy in the UK, The Stranglers and The Jam written on them. There was also a large one made out of rubbery stuff, shaped like a rat.  I was wild, you see. Anti-establishment and anguished. My badges, dog collar, safety pins and cropped, red hair said so.  The tragic rebel image took a battering though when it rained and the food colouring I’d used to dye my hair ran all over my face.

By 16, I sported a fashionable, mirrored badge, from which Lenin gazed solemnly out. These badges crept round certain parts of the school, finding their way onto the lapels of those of us who wished to display their Communist tendencies. We were so hip, a cut above the rest. The elite, in fact. An irony which escaped all of us.

At 17, in a flowery smock, with embroidered jeans, rattling with beads and reeking of patchouli oil, my badges said, Make Love Not War and Nuclear Power? No Thanks.

Aged 18 I went wandering round Europe and one by one, the hippie badges dropped off, went rusty or were lost by the roadside.

The last badge I acquired was for my son when he was 10.  ‘Jesus is coming,’ it said,  ‘Look busy’.

Since then, forcing my dentist to promise he’d give me a sticker in return for being allowed to drill my tooth, is the nearest I’ve come to needing any sort of sartorial adornment to boast of my achievements.

So thanks, Trip Advisor, I’ve grown out of badges. But if you would like to reward my contribution to your website with a large shiny new camera and a ticket to, well, just about anywhere, I’d be delighted to accept.


Horror movies that aren’t.

H and I just watched half of The Amytville Horror.

I’d read the book as an easily spooked 12 year old so when we found the remake on Netflix I got all excited.
‘Oh go on, let’s watch it, it’s dead scary this is, it’s brilliant, go on, you’ll kack yourself watching this,’ I said, huddling under the duvet and taking an excited gulp of Booze Bargains, Vin de Cheapo.

We watched as blood dribbled out of light switches, fridge magnets arranged themselves into misspelled messages and the door to the boat house slammed all by itself. Continue reading


Breakfast with Proust.

I was looking out of the kitchen window, at wet rooftops and a slate sky, the view only slightly brightened by a splash of vomit on the window, the result of a brief but exciting  liaison H had with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. (Sorry Mum, really sorry, I’ll clean it up, honest.)

Then from a bag of crusty rolls, a yeasty smell escaped and barged its way up my nose to my brain, flipping open a bright cine-screen from a very long time ago.

I was 19, had just pitched up in Algiers with my feckless fool of a fella. I’d tell you his name but as a compulsive fantasist, he had a whole string of names and I never found out which was the real one. 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


Suckers & springs & sex toys

Me:  Have you seen those toys called Trashies? They’re quite cute.

New Man:  No. Are they kids’ toys or sex toys?

Me:  Kids toys. Tsht.  Would you seriously go near a sex toy called a Trashy?


Me: OK. Maybe you would.

…… later, after a bit of feverish Trashy googling ….

New Man: But what do they do? There’s no suckers or springs or anything.

Me:   My dear child of the 70s, of course there are no suckers or springs.
Suckers and springs would increase production costs and thereby reduce profit margins. Suckers and springs would also increase the likelihood of Trashy-takes-eye-out compensation claims.
This is the 21st century. Toys are designed and marketed to induce an obsessive need to acquire the whole collection for the purposes of showing off to friends.  You’re not supposed to actually play with them ….


In Berlin with a map, a camera and a new man.

Easyjetting to Berlin on Monday.

I’m taking my new camera. Am also taking my new man.

I will do my best not to break or lose either of them.

I have instructions for the camera, a map for Berlin but no instructions or map for my new man.

However I am still confident about finding my way around all three.