Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wot's yr addy?

It's a simple enough question, but in a world obsessed with 24/7 accessibility, it's a tricky one to answer. No longer will it suffice to give the number, street and postcode of one's humble abode, as was the norm back in the 'olden days'. My kids use that term to refer to the era of my childhood. I think they do it to humour me, or at least I hope they do. On the surface things don't appear to have changed that much in 20 years, it's the pace of life which has turned from a relaxed meander into a jog on the treadmill.

These days we're in too much of a hurry to wait for things to arrive through the letterbox. We're too busy to go shopping but need a new jacket. The shops may be closed by the time you've finished work - no problem - you can browse all your favourite fashion stores' websites 24 hours a day.

How many of you have been sick with worry when you have been unable to contact a loved one for more than few hours? Who'll admit to annoyed and frustrated when calls to a friend, phone company, bank's local branch have gone unanswered? I will, but I wouldn't have said that 20 years ago.

Now, when someone asks me for my addy (text-speak will appear in a future what grinds my gears style blog)I'd be most likely to give them my e-mail address. Well, one of them. Over the years I've acquired a few in the way some women seem to accumulate shoes. I sometimes wonder if it's a status thing. Like having lots of addresses makes me some kind of property tycoon; landed gentry even. I don't understand the shoe hoarding thing though.

If you've ever been in a chatroom, you'll know that 'wot's yr addy?' is a question usually designed to obtain your MSN/Yahoo username. I'm sure the anonymity that web based (e.g. Hotmail) addresses bring has been a factor in the huge growth of the companies which provide them. Instant messaging may have its benefits but they are outweighed by the frustration caused by the misinterpretation that can occur.

So, up to now, we have found 3 variations to go on the list of definitions of addy. At this point, I feel Twitter worthy of a mention. In just 11 characters I can direct someone to my profile. From there, they can leave me a message, link to my e-mail via a link to my blog.

Add Facebook to the equation and we're up to 5. I'm sure it won't be long before someone comes up with the idea of combining all these contact points in to one URN. A unique reference number for each and every one of us. We could have our codes tattooed onto our forearms, thus negating the need to ever ask the question again. 'Wot's yr addy?' will one day become the kind of thing your nana would've said.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

A Slice of Turkey without Cranberry.

It's 11 o' clock on a humid, mid-August night and I'm having my first taste of Turkey. At 31 degrees it's pleasingly warm and smells, if I'm honest, a bit like chicken with a sprinkling of cumin. The aroma from the kebab shop in the airport foyer welcomes a plane load of hungry Geordies. After 4 hours of being forced to sit and drink the beverages trolley dry, they're ready for something to soak up the alcohol. It's not unlike the Bigg Market on a Saturday night but here there are more Trolley Dollies than trollied dollies.

That was almost two weeks ago now and the flavour's fading as fast as my tan. Short summer vacations are one of the perks of Pots' job. Conversely I have 7 consecutive weeks of 'holiday' this year giving me precious extra hours for cooking & cleaning, washing & ironing, picking kids up & dropping them off, negotiating & mediating........ a job in the education sector is great - just make sure you don't have your own kids!

Oh dear, that makes me sound all bitter and twisted. It's not that I wish I was childless. I quite like my kids really. Especially when they are asleep. That's the only time the effort:domestic tasks ratio decreases unless, of course, you're in a 5* hotel. This year we decided to throw sand in the face of anyone daring to suggest: '' a change is as good as a rest.'' Sure, food shopping in a foreign market is a welcome change from trudging Asda's neon-lit aisles but you still have to prepare and cook it, before clearing up, washing up and putting away. For a single week, the first this year, we were holidaying abroad as a family and I was determined to have change AND rest.

Goldcity Tourism Complex stood majestically on the Alanyan hillside, it's lights (I think they were trying for golden, but orange is a fairer description) twinkled proudly to greet us as we wound our way up the steep road towards it. The next seven days were going to be spent indulging in luxury and I wasn't going to feel guilty about it.

Thanks to the stunning views, delicious food, sublime spa, amazing architechtural detail and the staff's attention to detail, my mission was accomplished. Total relaxation. I usually measure this in brpw (books read per week). This year's score is a healthy 3.

I won't bore you with a descriptive list of the resort's amenities because its snazzy website can paint that picture far better than I. What it fails to do however, is project the personalities of the people that make the whole experience; the fellow tourists with whom new bonds and friendships are formed; the attentive staff whose individualism remains unstifled by corporatism. Our favourite bartender, Dolly Dimple as we affectionately called her, had such an infectious smile that you couldn't help but grin as she skipped around the bar, on tip-toes, messing up everyone's drinks orders: ''Oh, so sorry. No cranberry for vodka so I bring you beer instead. Is Ok?''

Bearing in mind that we didn't venture further than the slick rooftop bar on the sixteenth floor or the outdoor massage tents in the Spa's gardens at lower basement level, it would be ambitious to claim that we'd seen a real slice of Turkey. I may need to wait til Christmas before I can have it with cranberry, but after my summer taster, I'm ready to book again for autumn. Join me.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Lazy Cow

I suppose this blog's title does apply to me, as far as updating my online ramblings go anyway. I temporarily abandoned Mad Cow Patter in favour of indulging myself in other social networking activites.

Yes, I discovered Twitter. No-one I know is following me so it makes my updates seem pretty futile, but I've been Tweeting away regardless. More fun though, is reading the Tweets of others - snippets of the lives and opinions of people from all around the world. Compared with the likes of Facebook and Myspace, this phenomenon seems to have attracted an older crowd which makes me feel more at home. I was quite excited to see I had some followers of my own, but the early flushes of pride soon drained away when I realized that the majority were bots. The first 'person' to request updates of my random ramblings was an oriental girl with her very own sex-cam. That'll teach me to mention lubricants in my updates. When I said 'smearing myself in Vaseline', I was referring to my feet, in preparation for the Moonwalk!

Actually I haven't been that lazy when I come to think of it. The Spring months were spent training for the charity walk ( I don't do running) I'd somehow volunteered myself for. A balmy Edinburgh night, surrounded by women (and men) in bras and trainers pounding 26 miles of scottish pavement in aid of Breast Cancer. Quite an uplifting (pun intended) experience. We even saw Lorraine Kelly who's actually a lot less caviidaeic* in real life. Best part of the weekend was when our taxi driver showed his support by giving us £10 for the charity. And we still had our t-shirts on at that point.

On the home front, there's a new addition to the family. She's 4 months old now and has already quadrupled in size since we adopted her. After being pestered for months by the kids, I finally succumbed and started researching dog breeds. I trawled the internet for weeks to find the ideal pet. A soft coated wheaten terrier. All my fears about mess, noise, dirt, smell and general hassle are forgotten when I come home to her enthusiastic waggy tailed greeting.

One the second home front, we will, by tomorrow, be the owners of a new house. I say new, but it's 30 or so years old . We won't be moving into it. I could never sell this house. I don't think I would ever find one I loved as much, even if it could do with a bit of work. No, our recent purchase will be let out. I've already found 3 lots of interested potential tenants. Guess where I found them............................via Facebook and Gumtree. Seems time spent on the internet isn't always wasted.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Watching Over Me

I feel a bit guilty for neglecting my blog but I've been busying myself with a few practical tasks lately. There's nothing like an early spring overhaul to keep your mind off emotional issues!

When the traces of sawdust have been vacuumed up and the paintbrushes cleaned, my eternally questioning brain wanders back to same old circles of thought. It's then I resort to my annonymous blog. Strangely, the posts I publish there attract more readers than Mad Cow Patter's AND more comments.

I've never needed a large audience; it's enough just knowing that the important few are interested enough to visit and revisit my pages of patter. I know who you are, and I thank you whilst apologetically admitting I'm not the best at replying to e-mails and texts. x

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Crash, Bang, Moral Dilemma

A few lessons have been learned lately:

  1. If you feed metallic holographic wrapping paper through a shredding machine, it buggers the cutting blades. ( I was trying to make cheerleader style pom-poms for Thing 2.)

  2. My daughter has stronger moral fibre than my son.

  3. Honesty generates good karma.

I'm 5 days into single-mummydom and, rather than lamenting my husband's absence, I've been embracing my temporary independence. When the alarm buzzed on Monday morning I felt a sense of self-satisfaction along with the usual irritation at being awoken from my peaceful slumber. That annoying little sound proved that I am still capable of setting an alarm clock.

I wanted to prove I was a decent Mum too, by enjoying some quality time with the chiddlers; hence the pom-pom experiment. I asked their advice on which type of sandpaper we should buy in B & Q, to help us with our DIY project. Back home, I put Pinky in charge of finding the sander in the shed, and his sister was given a screwdriver and pointed in the direction of the handles to be removed. With all plans for the proposed extension on hold, I decided to make the most of what we've got.

Sanding is hard work, but there's something quite therapeutic about rubbing away years of stains, varnish and grime. Stripping the wood back to it's bare beauty, revealing the grain which tells its life story. The final result will be all the more rewarding, knowing that I have helped create it. I say helped, because it was my friend Lucy who motivated me to start the task AND put her fair share of elbow grease into it too. Her positivity rubs off on me and that's a good thing, although I wonder what her reaction would have been, to the moral dilemma I faced tonight.

It's 7pm and the Hollyoaks credits are rolling. It's 1/2 hour since the kids finished their chili and now they want pudding. They won't be fobbed off with apples, and I could do with some cake to see me through the night, so we head off for the Co-op. Walking = exercise, fresh air, environmental friendliness, Pinky slams the front door behind him, wearing only a polo shirt, my mind shouts, 'car= warmth, speed, comfort, convenience.'

I've driven 50 metres from my gate and I'm trying to manoeuvre my Chelsea Tractor past a Yaris, parked 2 metres from a junction and obstructing more than half of the already narrow lane. Crash, bang, 'shit'. Did that lady, loading something into a nearby car, hear that sickening sound of metal against metal. Should I stop and report it? Try and get away with it? Thing 2 urges me to do the former, Pinky the latter.

In the end, I was compelled to side with my daughter, when she posed the question: 'How would you feel if someone had done that to your car?' , right after berating me for using a swear word. I'd been torn between the satisfaction of doing the honest thing and the desire to keep my no-claims bonus intact. Pinky, I fear, may turn out to be one of the 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' types, but for now at least, he's still intent on beating them above all else. I have to admire his competitive nature. On Sunday, in an attempt to prove he was as good a chef as his dad, he rustled up a fantastic cooked breakfast. who cares if his ulterior motive is to gain Brownie points towards the skateboard he wants? I intend to get a bit more mileage out of his current willingness to cooperate - I've always preferred the carrot to the stick method.

I duly placed on note under the windscreen wiper and awaited the call. I 'felt the fear and did it anyway'. At worst, I could expect an irate driver shouting abuse down the phone at me and an increased premium on my motor insurance. As it turned out, the caller was perfectly reasonable and polite and even thanked me for leaving the note. Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to acknowledge on act of honesty to reinforce my faith in karma.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Pool Rules

This inabilty to post photos on here is becoming very frustrating. I wanted to insert the vintage swimming pool poster, 'Would patrons kindly refrain from..........'. You know the one. White background, red headline and 9 cartoon pics of swimmers enjoying forbidden activities such as smoking (?!?), running, pushing and, ahem, petting. Its purpose was to demonstrate the inanity of some of those rules. The one I'd expected to see was, 'no swimming soon after eating' but alas, it wasn't there. I did however come across an up to date version featuring thongs, bling, games consoles and mobiles as banned items.

Still no mention of swimming on a full stomach. Perhaps there was some truth in the discussion tonight on QI , where Stephen Fry claimed there was no evidence to show that this was dangerous. It didn't stop my parents using it as an excuse for avoiding an afternoon at the local baths, not does it prevent me using it as a pretext for staying home. I have quite a few excuses come to think of it. If a recent waxing means I can't use the 'spiders' legs' get-out, I promise to take the chiddlers just as soon as they've tidied their rooms, confident in the knowledge that it will never happen. I like safe bets.

I wish there'd been a few sensible rules posted poolside in our Florida holiday let. 'Don't push mobile carrying friends into water' would have saved Pots' phone and, 'Don't fire party poppers in around the pool' would have helped us avoid declaring war, armed with litres of industrial strength bleach and scrubbing brush, on the white painted patio. Not what you need on New Years Day with a raging hangover, but Aggie did a great job! I think she'd been having withdrawal symptoms. Four days without Domestos! The fumes, which made my eyes stream, acted like hair of the dog for her and by lunchtime, she was ready to hit the malls.

I, on the other hand, was left home alone with my 'dying' husband. I say dying, because he was convinced that his heart would stop beating if he fell asleep. I spent the afternoon lying there, watching the rise and fall of his chest, trying to convince him (and myself) that it WAS just a hangover resulting from his share of a 2 litre bottle of Vodka, 4 cans of Red Bull and 2 bottles of red. The infamous energy drink didn't give him wings that day.

Maybe we should have observed the rule about 'No alcohol in the jacuzzi area'. Perchance then my party shoe wouldn't have ended up in the filter.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Get your t**s out for the girls!

It's official. This year I'll be donning my customised bra (there's a job for the 19th June), lacing up my Adidas trainers (kindly donated by my friend in the marketing department there - snail mail is so slooooooooooooooow; let's hope they arrive in time for me to break them in ;-0) and joining a herd of other mad cows on the Moonwalk. Twenty six miles around Edinburgh in the dead of night.

I have to say I'm quite excited because the scottish capital is one of my favourite cities. Many moons ago, I almost took a place at college there but instead, I opted for the Lancastrian fields of gold. To think , for three years I endured being surrounded by Prestonian babble, when I could have been serenaded by the gentle tones of the Edinburgers. Rather than chomping on Umberto's fish and chips, I'd have been munching deep fried Mars Bars on the way home from the Student Union drinks promo night.

I consoled myself in the knowledge that I was closer to my boyfriend of 2 years and able to live the Manchester scene every other weekend. It was a pretty cool place to be in the early 90s and anyway, Edinburgh would still be there when I graduated, even if my boyfriend wasn't.

I didn't return until I was married and pregnant. Eight months into it in fact, at the end of a long, hot summer pregnancy. The idea was to enjoy our last romantic weekend of peace and tranquility before Pinky (or Felix as he was then known) arrived. Not that waddling up the City's hilly streets, bloated and out of breath was very romantic. Nor was developing heartburn as my meal arrived or falling asleep as soon as my head hit the tartan pillowcase.

I can assure my sponsors (go on - dig deep, it's all in aid of Breast Cancer) that'll I'll have more stamina this year. I reckon that if I fill up my Camelbak with Red Bull and keep up my blood sugar levels with deep fried Mars, I should walk it!