Calorific comedy

Sad news about the well known crossword compiler, George p. Waldercroft, who died last week. After a sympathetic service, he was buried six down and three across…

One of the many crackers from the One Ronnie.

If you need a pick-me-up that is far better for your health, put down the wine and the biscuit tin and surf you tube for comedian’s best.

Have just gorged on: Only fools and Horses doing the chandelier episode, Delboy leaning on a wine club bar and Delboy and Rodney as Batman and Robin. As well as Big Train’s herding jockeys in the wild, Blackadder’s altercation with Queenie and some b**** fights on smack the pony.


This blog is for Unicef.

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Time out with Lee Evans

If you are on Youtube and happen upon some cctv footage of a man and woman changing out of their bike leathers and into normal clothes at break-neck speed by the side of a motorbike it could well be me and my husband.

When you have children and dogs, one night out without them takes some serious planning. After dropping them all off at grandparents and friends, we had 1hour and 45 minute to make a 2 hour journey o the Lee Evans performance and I hadnt organised parking. So the bike was the only option. Thank God we chose that mode of transport, because the parking next to the venue was full, so we just squeezed the bike through some bollards round the side of the venue, got changed and legged it to the entrance with a minute to spare until the show was about to start.

It is difficult to describe what makes Lee Evans so funny in writing. He manages to turn everyday occurrences into the most funny descriptions covering animals, marriage, driving, drinking and everything in-between. He notices that ‘teenagers become paralysed when you take their mobile phone away’; ‘what would happen if retrievers were used in bomb disposal units?’ and ‘why do we say ‘bye’ multiple times at the end of a conversation? He acts out each scenario in a hysterical way that is pure comedy genius. I couldnt think of a better way to take time out.

This blog is for Unicef.

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Happiness is perfect yet perfect isnt happy

I read an article by actress and stand-up comedian Francesca Martinez. It was brilliant and inspired me to order her book ‘What the f*** is normal?’ It also made me re-evaluate some of my views, particularly relating to parenting disabled children. I had always thought that parenting a disabled child overwhelming, although I could never have brought myself to abort a baby based on a predicted disability forecast by health professionals – a predicament that would have no doubt finished our marriage. My husband’s views on bringing up a disabled child are in contrary to his own childhood, which was marred by severe hearing loss due to brain damage.

Francesca looks at it from a different angle, ‘Most parents-to-be still fear that their beloved Newborn will turn out to be -oh, the horror – disabled. My personal fear is that my future child will turn out to be unhappy. I don’t care what he or she can or can’t do, how they talk or walk or how many fingers and toes they have. Because I don’t think that is a good indicator of happiness. Forget aborting babies because of the suffering they might endure. What about the suffering they will create? Wouldn’t it make sense to develop a test to check for the arms-dealer gene, the advertising executive gene, the corporate-overlord gene, or the gossip-magazine editor gene? That would eliminate quite a lot of suffering.’

I wish I had read Francesca’s article in The Guardian before I passed judgement on my daughter’s maths test mark. She described the scale of marks to me with 6 being the top score. I cant pretend that I was disappointed she had got a 3, they then get a sub mark in the form of letters, with A being the lowest and D being the top. Her total mark was 3B. I couldn’t hold back this disappointment and said that I didn’t  think her mark was ‘that good’ and that if she wanted to get into boarding school (her wish not mine) she was going to need to get a 5 or 6. What made me suddenly turn into a mother with the support and encouragement skills of an amoeba? Why did I turn into one of those pushy mothers who focus so much on grades they don’t recognise their daughter’s anorexia and anxiety attacks because of this unnecessary pressure to perform. Most parents say they just want their child to be happy, but also gets lots of qualifications and a high-earning job, the stress of which will put them into an early grave? I managed to halt the destructive path I was proceeding down when she explained to me that she had done her best and I later described it to Daddy in front of her as a ‘good’ mark, to which he said, ‘well that’s OK, it’s average’ gah! So I quickly added that no doubt Mummy and Daddy would have scored a 0 or a 1 if we had taken the same test at her age. Then I thought about the research that found those  who doubt their own maths abilities pass this down to their children. A fine case of how not to support the school life of an 8 year old. Next time I will apply duck tape to our mouths.

So tests are meant to give the teachers a steer on how the child is progressing and what additional support the child needs. I just wish teachers would give parents a steer  as to how we handle the news of the scores and whether we do nothing, praise regardless or encourage to try harder.

I agree with Francesca that kids and adults should just aim to be happy, so why as parents are we so f***in obsessed with perfection, when we are anything but.

I am blogging for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.


Swimming for the better

I’m going to have to keep this blog post short as my eyes feel like pissholes in the snow, I am so tired. It is a lovely tiredness, if I could use such an adjective, because it follows the satisfying feeling of completing a challenge. Myself and my friend finished a 5k swim in an hour and a half, which included a couple of breaks as we took it in turns to support my daughter’s swim, whose performance was by the far the most impressive achievement.

She had been so worried that she wouldn’t manage the mile long distance of 64 lengths and I kept reassuring her that it would be manageable once she divided the distance into chunks of 20 lengths. After I had one my first 50 I went o swap with my friend to see how m daughter was doing and I couldn’t believe that she was two thirds of the way through without stopping. She just found her rhythm and kept going. She enjoyed it so much she wants to return next year and do 1oo lengths of the pool. Thus raising the bar for me and my friend to go for the 200 lengths distance.

What undoubtedly kept my daughter going was the support she had already received from friend’s and family – £155. Combined with me and my friend’s target, the grand total we raised was £355. If last night’s sport relief programme is anything to go by this amount will keep a several children in education for a year and will buy plenty of mosquito nets to stop the spread of malaria amongst children.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening.

I am blogging for Unicef, but this weekend please support the work of Sport Relief. The national campaign has raised £51 million with more money expected following this weekend’s activities.

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An inevitable tide

I am about to embark on the Sport Relief challenge but something even more challenging has come my way……potty training.

Not me, I hasten to add, I have been ‘dry’ for about 32 years now, except in I999 when I shouldn’t have touched the bottle of Metaxa….. I am referring to the potty training process of my 2 year old son.

It started with the purchase of Mickey mouse pants (I love encouraging him to repeat that phrase as he has a lisp). Once home I wasted no time getting him on his new pants and saying bye-bye to nappies after over 2 years. Then the ticking time bomb commenced. When would he need to do his first wee? I encouraged him to sit on the potty and then remain on it, reading half of his book collection in an effort to key him on the throne. But to no avail. After a play in the garden, I saw he started to walk like John Wayne and he announced to me that he was ‘wet’. So with minimum fuss I changed him into another version of his Mickey mouse pants and then commenced the frequent reminders of ‘potty’.

After he woke up from his afternoon nap I thought he might need a wizz but 5 books later the well of the potty was still dry. The focus on toilet routines had the opposite effect on me, I wanted to go to the loo even more frequently than normal. So, I decided to lead by example ably assisted by a baby Bjorn trainer seat. He seemed to be happier perched on this but even so all the children’s literature in the world could not encourage the waterworks, not even with the taps running.

So I know he has control, he just needs to learn how to release that control. I fear that will happen in his sleep tonight but I am confident that by this time next week we will be nappy free.

I have just enjoyed watching the Sport Relief programmes on the BBC, including the reports from Africa, which were incredibly difficult to watch but reinforce why Sport Relief is so important. You just get the feeling that much more could be done if our world operated slightly differently (I am referring to programmes, such as last night’s channel Four programme on the customers of Rolls Royce). How many malaria vaccines could be bought with the equivalent capital to buy one person seven Rolls Royce.

But until re-distribution of wealth is sorted, causes like Sport Relief do their best to make do on the generosity of people wanting things to change, if only they could change for good rather than stem the tide of poverty that seems to be inevitable across the world.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. For this weekend please support Sport Relief. The rest of the year please support Unicef when you can.

Thanks for reading.



gap between developing and developed countries, rich and poor

Spotting Spots for BBC Children in Need

As promised, I am going to dedicate my blog to day today to Spots and all things spotty. So here goes (I confess Wikipedia was used when my spot spotting ran dry).

But first…..a lesson on how not to do a fundraiser…….

My daughter went to school today wearing her spotty dressing gown and rose-spotted pyjamas. I offered to paint spots on her face but she declined as now she is in Year 2 she is “too old for face-painting”. They were raising money at school through a cake sale so I gave my daughter £10 to buy a couple of cakes and then all the change to be put in the pot for children in need. After 2 calls from the teacher and the headmaster, apparently my daughter had lost the £10 note somewhere between her wallet and the cake stall. I checked the bus company just in case it had fallen in the school bus trip. However the headmaster then rang to say he located the £10 note on someone else because he found it surprising that a child should be clutching a £10 note for a cake sale. Apparently my daughter gave it to a friend (and then forgot she had done so) because the friend said she would give her change when she wanted to buy a cake. All very suspect and don’t know quite where the teachers were to help out with the change situation on the stall. The Headteacher made me feel bad for sending £10 in (well I didnt have any change and besides whats so wrong with buying some cakes and donating the rest to charity – surely a good lesson for a child to learn?). My daughter then came home at the end of the day disappointed with no cakes and the £10 note still intact when I intended it to go to Children in Need. Quite how the school managed to raise any money is beyond me – what’s the point of wearing pyjamas if there is no fee to wear them – where is the fundraising element?

Right, now that’s off my chest… are the spots I have managed to spot:

Spots have always been quite fashionable (apart from the acne variety) In the fifties they donned jive dresses and bow ties. This fashion was also found on tableware of the polka dotted variety – Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley and Boden are some of the household names that use spots in their designs. Galleries selling art-work use spots to mark sold pictures. Twister is a popular game that uses spots. Pirates look for spots marked X. My daughter and son enjoy reading the Spot the Dog books. Easter eggs are often decorated with spots, particuraly the Cadburys Smarties variety. Spots are often used as wayfinders in large shops and supermarkets. Spots are often spray-painted on trees to mark them for felling. Some famous people are known as ‘Spot’: the dog (as mentioned before); a chicken character in the 101 Dalmatians series; the name of a pet cat in Star Trek, the next generation; a pet dragon in The Munsters; A pet dog in the Dick and Jane books: the name of the 7up mascot; the name of one of George W Bush’s dogs. Spot is an acronym of Sex Pistols on Tour and the name of a music festival held in Denmark. You find spots in various hotspots. Before google used balloons to mark spots on a map, people used old style Michelin sponsored paper maps to mark spots across the UK. Spot is New Zealand slang for one hundred dollars. USS Spot was an American submarine used in World War 2. The single point of truth (SPOT) is a term used in software engineering to reduce chances of duplication; it is also the name of an airport security technique ‘screening passengers by observation techniques’. Monkeys, birds, fish and butterflys are often given special names for either the presence of spots or for their lack of spots. Finally, Spotland does exist… Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Oh forgot to mention Mr Blobby.

Pyjamas – term originally derived from the Persian word Peyjama meaning ‘leg garment’ and was incorporated into the English language during the British Raj period (1858). This is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

In January 2012, Michael Williams, a commissioner in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, proposed an ordinance prohibiting people from wearing pajamas in public. Caddo Parish already has a law against wearing sagging pants below the waist, but Williams is pushing for a law against pajama pants after seeing a group of young men wearing loose fitting pajama pants that were about to show their private parts. According to Williams, “The moral fiber in our community is dwindling. If not now, when? Because it’s pajama pants today, next it will be underwear tomorrow.”

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Long live Lemsip

Now my illness last week was well documented. Great. The start of Autumn and I already seem to get every bug going. I don’t have time to be ill. When I’m not working I’m babysitting, when I’m not doing that I’m cleaning, or dog-walking or cooking or masturbating….um sorry..don’t know how that one slipped in.. Anyway Monday night I get the sniffles and it feels like its brewing for something more than just a cold.  Not again! So I pop the Lemsip and its like magic. It doesn’t take long to get into my bloodstream and I’m feeling good. Today back to normal again. Thank fuck for Lemsip. However its not me I worry about. Its passing the germs on to my children. Its bad enough when they are ill but when you are responsible for passing on the germs thus causing their suffering that’s ten times worse.

There is lots of criticism for parents who some believe are “too quick to use Calpol when their child is ill”. If your child is suffering you want to alleviate their suffering and if that means giving them some strawberry flavoured medicine than so be it. It is not going to do them any harm. I love it that the older generation claim that too much medicine is a bad thing, yet they don’t seem to understand how important sunscreen is. They are quite happy to burn themselves till their skin resembles leather under the Spanish sun like skin cancer doesn’t exist but when it comes to dispensing medicine to under 5’s – oh …that’s a cardinal sin.

Some parents are very nervous of vaccinations too. I can understand the concerns around MMR. I elected to have them done separately because I am not convinced the NHS has done enough to disprove the link between MMR vaccinations and a possible link with autism. Aside from that argument, I just think it is a bit much to give 3 vaccinations in one hit in a little body. Particularly when the main aim behind the vaccine is cost-cutting rather than a better quality vaccination. So, a cost-cutting vaccination that has tenuous links with an extreme neurological condition – not the most inviting prospect.

However, on the whole we should be happy we even get the chance to choose whether or not we take advantage of free vaccinations. During the last comic relief, I watched a programme about John Bishop’s gruelling trip from France to Britain on foot, bike and row-boat. he visited a child’s hospital in Africa and witnessed the howls of horror and pain from a mother who had just discovered her baby daughter had died from a bad case of diarrhoea. He watched as the nurses carefully wrapped the young body up and removed her from the ward as the mother’s howls disappeared down the corridor. John’s face was like stone, his expression was one of a man who is just about holding it together in front of the cameras. It was awful to watch and hard to believe that a child’s life had been taken over a case of diarrhoea – something that is easily treatable with medication and vaccinations in this country. Yet this mother and her baby daughter were denied their chance to protect and preserve their lives. It just isn’t fair. That’s why we understood why John was putting himself through the gruelling challenge because he only had to think about that mother’s despair and he could push through the pain barriers if it meant more money would go to help fund more vaccinations for hospitals in Africa.

So when I next have to take my baby son to the doctors, I am not going to moan about the NHS if I have to wait an extra 10 minutes to be seen, or the pros and cons of vaccinating because we are incredibly lucky to have the NHS and like Danny Boyle when he showcased the service in the Olympic opening ceremony, I am proud of it too. If only they had the money and means to make it possible in places like Africa.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able tu support my fundraising please visit the Unicef site. I am trying to raise £1 a day.

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Charity shop boutiques

I live 15 minutes away from quite an exclusive area. Before you get any ideas, I live in the poor part. But it is nice to rub shoulders with the posh wankers to see what could have happened to us if we had sprung from the loins of a middle class gent. (Don’t have a chip on my shoulder at all). Anyway just to give you an idea, the town is a picturesque scene of tudor style (and a bit of mock tudor, georgian etc), ‘I saw you coming’ shops, Range Rover sports, agas, labradors and more private schools than you can shake a lacrosse stick at. Its also very handy should you need to pop into ‘town’. (Posh people’s slang for London).

A lot of workforce from the Met live in this area so they can earn the big salaries plus the London weighting but can escape the bad streets and apartheid like education system at evenings and weekends.

My Mum and I had a mooch around the shops today. My 10 month old is already a dab hand at shopping and is quite happy pontificating over bracelets and matching handbags while strapped in his buggy sucking furiously on dummy. It had been a very unsatisfying shopping excursion due to the astronomical prices. I pick up a barely there bracelet £20. Those boots look nice (£110). Oh, well what about those? (£90) slightly better but not much. “Would you like to try those on?” I glance up and towering above me is a very tall, very slim and slightly scrawny, brunette version of Joanna Lumley with eyebrows plucked almost to oblivion and a Princess Diana accent. “No thanks I’m just browsing (or dreaming)”. My Mum and I scuttle off to another area of the shop keen to discover the sale rail. We admire  the cashmere jumpers instead and start caressing them wistfully. “They are lovely aren’t they?” says brunette Lumley “particularly with the lace trim, fantastic for layering” (like I could afford to buy something else to go with the top after spending £60 alone on a skimpy little sweater).  Thankfully my baby boy distracts her, “Oh isn’t he a dear little thing?” she coos.  I would love to know how these people justify such astronomical prices – what exactly is their mark-up? You can tell it is of better quality than Tescos but really? Even if I had the money I don’t think I could bring myself to spend the best part of a £1000 on a couple of tops and jeans. Its just obscene.

As we leave the shop we cross the road to the Cancer Research shop. As soon as we are through the door, my eyes alight upon 2 tops by Whistles, a skirt complete with tags from White Stuff and a couple of other tops and cardigans – my Mum kindly bought them for me, the total? £30. I could almost make out brunette Lumley uttering ‘cheap-skates’ under her breath as she saw us emerge from the shop with a bulging bag. But you have got to be a mug to spend a fortune on clothes. My recommendation? Take a journey to the nearest town where most toffs tend to congregate and then rifle through their cast-offs in the charity shops. Its a whole new boutique shopping experience. plus helps a few other people too in the process.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to support my campaign, please visit my fundraising page.

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I don’t think I will ever use a train loo again – why?

Sorry got back yesterday waaay too late so missed my day’s posting – another pound in the pot.

So, we won tickets to the BT London Live event at Hyde Park courtesy of Cadburys. We jumped on the train to Waterloo and half way through the journey I needed to go to the loo – wish I hadn’t. The train loos have these bizarre electronic doors that are very large and not discreet at all. You press the open button and the door retracts to display the whole loo to you and everyone in that end of the carriage – nice! So I go in press the close button and stupidly assumed that it automatically locked. Didn’t see the giant handle that resembled something off a pump that said ‘turn to lock’. I lifted the lid to find a number of previous deposits from god knows how many previous passengers – lots of poo floating in lots of wee – delightful. The flush clearly wasn’t working but that didn’t stop me answering nature’s call – when a girl’s got to go and all that. So I decide to hover over the most disgusting loo somewhere between the home counties and the metropolis. It is not an easy feat to piss directly into the middle of a toilet bowl while swaying from side to side and avoiding any nasty splashback (sorry) … could be an olympic sport as it required fairly strong thighs. I was busily focusing on my aim when I heard a hissing sound and looked up to see a young boy and his father staring at me slightly mystified and possibly disgusted. Behind the boy and the father was the rest of the carriage. Now, as I explained earlier, this door is massive and opens slowly and will not stop until it reaches its full extent (a bit like theatre curtains). I was miles away from the button and due to my compromising position did not want to get up to touch the button for fear of exposing yet more of myself. So I relied on the boy’s father to push the close button, which he was frantically doing. This door was rather stubborn and would not close until it had opened completely so there was a rather awkward moment when we had to wait while the bloody door decided to close only once it had revealed the complete picture – a bit like revealing a scene on stage with a train window, basin, bin and loo with a semi-naked woman hovering over a toilet full of shit. It then took what seemed like 30 minutes to close. So I carried on hovering while one by one the passengers, the boy and the father gradually disappeared from my view again. Thank God this happened to me now as opposed to my teens – I think I would rather have jumped out of the window than come out to face all the people on the train again had I been younger. Thankfully as the years have gone by so has my sense of shame and after 2 children I have been poked and prodded by so many NHS health professionals that I feel every bit of me is public property now. Therefore, once finished, I opened the door for the 2nd time and felt the need to explain to the boy’s father and the rest of the carriage that the flush had well and truly failed and the poo in the bowl was not mine – I don’t know why that made things any better……….

Anyway enjoyed the Cadburys VIP experience at Hyde Park and watched the Olympic show-jumping on big screen. Once that was over though we got a bit bored of sitting on wood-chip and staring at a zillion different food outlets that left you in no doubt as to why England has obesity issues. So we took off, jumped on the tube to Covent garden, had dinner and then finished off the evening at the top secret comedy club – which was brilliant fun  – laughed loads and wished we could have stayed longer (we watched the first 2 acts Dane Baptiste and Prince Abdi who were excellent) but had to grab the last train home 😦

Loved being in the city during the Olympics you really felt the general buzz and vibe – transport system is very well organised – all the staff who spend ages pointing people in the right direction and ensuring everyone crosses the road safely and gets on the right train deserve gold medals too.

I’m off on holiday from tomorrow so this is my last post for a week so Unicef will benefit from my time-out contributions but hope you all enjoy the rest of the Olympics and I am already looking forward to the Paralympics – particularly as we have tickets to see the athletics in a couple of week’s time.

I hope you enjoyed my post and the embarrassing situations I sometimes find myself in – if so please donate £1 or $1 to Unicef – the whole reason why I do this blog.

Thank you.