Wednesday, 31 March 2010

POWER TO THE PEOPLE.... BLACKPOOL GOES PUBLIC

Exciting times are ahead if you're a resident of Blackpool. Government ministers have made claims that Blackpool is to be transformed into the most exciting resort in Europe by a huge regeneration initiative. 


This week, Blackpool Council announced that the residents of this great seaside town will now own Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens following the Council buying both institutions for £40million. For the first time in 116 years, these beautiful yet sadly neglected buildings return to public ownership. 


The money came in from European funds to aid our ailing resorts. It has been used to buy out Sir Trevor Hemmings' First Leisure Group who purchased the buildings and large tracts of Blackpool's seafront for a reduced price in readiness for Blackpool's proposed Super Casinos where we lost out to Manchester. Gordon Brown later scrapped all proposals for Super Casinos. Since then, the iconic buildings and tower have been left without investment and looking a little shabby from their previous greatness. 


The new dawn sees Merlin Entertainments (of London Dungeon and Legoland) to help regenerate Blackpool's entertainment and plan to revamp the Tower complex to include a 'Dungeon' style theme similar to the well-established London and York Dungeon. If you've ever been to either Dungeon, they're great fun (if a little gory). 


There are also proposals to invest in the WInter Gardens complex to restore its past glory as a conference centre hosting the political party conferences of old. With that, will come the inevitable building of new, fit for purpose hotels to rival Manchester and Liverpool.  


Great news for the town and for the people of Blackpool. Public ownership is refreshing and unusual in these days of profiteering and 'outsourcing'. Perhaps now there's a chance these beautiful buildings will be restored to their former glory and be considered world class. 


I can't help thinking though, that's there's always a cost for this kind of huge investment. I seem to remember being finished abruptly from my job as a casual worker whilst working for Blackpool Council during my nursing training. The job supplemented my bursary and being finished just before christmas due to a decision to reduce costs was difficult at the time. My colleagues in permanent jobs were facing pay cuts and possible redundancies. I applaud public ownership and hope that the proposed increased visitor numbers justify the costs.

ACHTUNG ROONEY

I suppose it was inevitable... those bloomin' Germans get one over on us again and Wayne Rooney gets crocked. For the United fans it was very nearly auf weidersehen to Bayern Munich after Rooney scored after two minutes. Shut up shop, defend, game over. Get them back to Old Trafford and finish the game off with a win. 
Sloppy defending right at the end of the match  and Bayern score two. Not a disaster in terms of the result but what happened next with Rooney could be viewed as not United's finest moment. A twisted ankle means he misses this weekend's title decider against Chelski. There's a view that he'll miss the next 6 matches which are critical in United's quest to retain the Premiership title. United have a great squad and I'm hoping Berbatov and Macheda step up to the mark. Rooney however is United's lynchpin and his presence is inspirational. United's loss is Chelski's gain I'm afraid. 


All England's fans would have collectively groaned at the sight of Rooney limping today on crutches. It's our best chance of winning the world cup this year and Rooney's our passport to glory. On the plus side, he now gets a month's rest before the tournament. There's now less chance of him breaking anything which will rule him out altogether. As a United fan though, I'm absolutely gutted!   





Tuesday, 30 March 2010

WINKLEMAN TAKES OVER FROM WOSSY

Good news today for Claudia Winkleman fans as she's just been named as Jonathan Ross's successor in Film 2010. I for one think it's a great move. Whilst Wossy's day in the limelight looks like it's in decline, Claudia's star is in the ascendency.  


Her presenting of Strictly Come Dancing It Take Two is compulsive viewing. She's just a little edgy and a little bonkers at the same time. There's no pouting or being a beautiful clothes-horse accessory for a male presenter with Claudia. She's quirky and more liable to throw her head back in giggles than to sit there demurely like most female presenters these days. At last, the BBC have recognised a woman with individuality and has that watchability factor. Davina McCall she ain't... thank God. Davina is just silly and tries too hard, Claudia delivers with kookiness and panache. 


Claudia in a nutshell is one of those women other women would choose as their mate. 


Time will tell whether Claudia fills the once-credible shoes of Wossy and pulls it off with Film 2010. I think somehow, she just might... 



Sunday, 28 March 2010

SUNDAY AT BROCK BOTTOM

Just got home after spending a glorious sunny Sunday out with some friends at Brock Bottom in the Trough of Bowland. It's a really lovely walk by the side of the River Brock made even lovelier when it's springtime.

Today we brought a dog along for the walk and you forget how great it is to have a dog splashing about in the river and running way when off the lead whilst we all panic that it's not being violated in the woods by some randy boxer dog. Fortunately the walk went without incident and after a couple of hours of walking in wellies and putting the world to rights, we head off to a country pub for the obligatory beer and Sunday roast. I love visiting country pubs in the Trough of Bowland. They usually contain characters sat with their pints at the bar eyeing anyone new (ie. townies) suspiciously. I once engaged in conversation with an older local man sat at the bar and I couldn't understand a word he said. Talk about the broadest Lancashire accent...
'Av thee come up from yonder vale lassie?' 'I beg your pardon?'
'Aye, thee wet t'whistle lass on yon butty, yull be deed bah time t'landlord gets himself straight' 'Erm... it's just gone ten past twelve'.

I'm making it sound like a cross between the Deliverence and a world of dark satanic mills but it isn't. It's geographically in the North East of Lancashire stretching easterly from Preston / Pendle hill up to Lancaster and I live within 16 miles of it. It's Lancashire's hidden gem, beautiful and untouristy, but the locals are a little Royston Vasey it has to be said. The Bowland fells has some of the most unspoilt countryside to rival anywhere in the UK and I'm very lucky to live so close to it.

The roast beef and Yorkshire pudding went down a storm and it jogged my memory of why I love Sunday roast dinner so much. We loosened our belts and headed off to Bonds at Elswick for an ice cream before taking Ebby the dog on another walk in the sunshine.

Great day with great company. Dancing on Ice later this evening.. I feel relaxed and refreshed and ready to face Monday morning...




Saturday, 27 March 2010

ME LADDIE AND ME

I've just spent a long time on the phone to my 10 year old godson saying goodbye and wishing him a good holiday as tomorrow he's off to Cumbria for a 4 day activity break with his school. I shall spend the next few days worrying that he comes back safe. It's always been the same with him...

From the day of his birth, he and I have forged such a close bond that his mum joked we should go on the Jeremy Kyle Show for me to be DNA tested to find out if I'm his biological mother. To his mum's eternal credit and as a testament to her lovely character, she has never begrudged her boy's devoted attachment to his football-loving aunty nor mine towards her first born son.

I saw his first steps, changed his nappies, helped him ride his bike, helped him clean out his guinnea pig cage and chided him for swearing. I took him to his first football match, let him stay up and watch Match of the Day when he stayed over and watched with pride from the touchline as he went for trials at Everton aged six. I even went to his first nativity play at school. His dad and I went and after about 3 minutes we began first sniggering and then through the agony of 'Away In a Manger' we began to look at assisted suicide as a viable option. That was until golden boy comes on with his solo recorder spot and I'm reduced to eyes welling up and then floods of tears. My godson finishes his spot and then looks out into the audience, spots me and with thumbs up, shouts over 'I did it aunty H'. Sobs at this point whilst his dad just looks at me and shakes his head in pity.

Since then, he has either texted or rung me every week. If he gets a spare moment away from his Playstation or kicking a football up and down his street, he writes to me! I've kept his letters and they are precious and funny in equal measures. He'll tell me about the injustice of getting told off at school for kicking a football into Mrs. Catterall's garden for the 3rd time that week or ask me impossible questions like where do birds go to die? He'll sit on my sofa with his Match Attax books and casually ask me whether girls like boys with gel in their hair.

I shall still worry about him whilst he's away but will also await the first text telling me the canooeing is fab and can I drop off some hair gel as he's forgotten to pack it....



NEVER WORK WITH CHILDREN OR DOGS

Yesterday I had the WORST day at work. A freaky Friday of monumentus proportions which saw me heading off to the pub after work to meet up with two of my oldest friends.


We then headed back to P's where several bottles of cold wine and an exuberant puppy awaiting our arrival...

M and I are not exactly animal lovers. Dogs, cats, reptiles and amphibians unsettle us in various degrees of mild discomfort through to phobic reaction requiring a sedative via injection, but M is particularly uneasy with dogs. No sooner had we walked through the door when this staffie cross labrador leaps towards us at 80mph which had M launch herself facewards to the wall in the style of being frisked by the LAPD. The screeches of 'GET THE BLOODY THING OFF ME' only aroused the puppy into doing an impersonation of a Shaun the Sheep rucksack and holding on to the back of M's coat before having her claws pinged back one by one to remove her from her mounted position.

And so we made our way through to the lounge with M (hyperventilating) and I clutching rosary beads and praying to St. Barbara of Woodhouse (the patron saint of dogs being put into the garden for the duration of our visit). P earnestly tells us that it's is a very friendly dog who just wants to say hello. Why dogs can't just shake paws like any normal person, I just don't know. Worryingly, we were warned the dog 'may' jump up on the sofa and try to eat our hair. I kid you not. This puppy who no doubt eats the finest IAMS preparations feels a need to suck visitors hair for an aperitif. P goes on to inform us that we'd be ok as long as we both sit well back into the sofa and whatever we do, DO NOT lean forward as the dog sees this a green light to get jiggy with sucking hair. M looks at me and I saw death staring back at me. All colour had drained from her face as she reached for my hand, united in the sisterhood chant of 'We shall not... we shall not be moved'.

M has been a Special Care Baby Unit nurse for over twenty five years. She is pragmatic and thoroughly excellent when dealing with prem babies. Her pragmatism does not extend to all things canine, indeed it's become a standing joke how M attracts animals. Ever since we were kids and riding our bikes home from school, normally mild-mannered dogs would break free from their gardens, teeth snarling and hurtle towards M who would be frantically pedalling whilst at the same time trying to free a dog's jaws clamped tightly to her size 5's. Even castrated dogs will try and mount her. However, in the face-off with P's dog, her cool nursing head kicks in at the prospect of dog saliva in her hair so she launches into her handbag for the nearest bobble to tie her hair back, a cattle stun-gun and adopting her bodily position into fully reclined mode.

The dog returns from her wee in the garden and takes one look at her new love interest M and springs onto the sofa, runs across the back and removes the bobble to let M's hair fall seductively across her face whilst M is screaming 'PLEASE GET THIS BASTARD DOG OFF ME... NOW'. P comes running in from the kitchen and asks me who the imposter is with the Robert Plant / Led Zep wet hair on her sofa, realises it's M and removes the dog into her arms kissing the hound from Hell and calming it down. Whilst M is using an inhaler to get her breathing back to normal, P then tells us both off for not heeding her instructions to sit well back and inferring that we 'invited' this experience by having the audacity to lean forward. This cycle happened several more times during the evening leading M and I to the conclusion that the puppy perhaps had lesbian tendencies. Call it a crush on an older woman.

Eventually the dog calmed down once M explained sympathetically that she was in a long-term relationship with the father of her child and perhaps she should mix with puppies more her own age. The dog spent the rest of the evening dozing across M's feet and no doubt reflecting on her lost love.

All in all, it turned into another of those fabulous wine-induced, laugh 'til you cry, crawl out at 2am evenings spent with two fab friends.

Ssshh, don't tell M but I've got her Cesar Millan tickets for her birthday...





Thursday, 25 March 2010

THINGS I HATE ABOUT FOOTBALL...

Ah, the beautiful game.. most love it.. some get infuriated by it.. some loathe it. I absolutely love it, always have done and probably always will do. But even I'm realistic enough to know that there are some really annoying things about football. Allow me to take you on the journey of things that make my blood boil about football...

Spitting
The spitting is relentless and occurs across all levels of football. I don't often see competitors in rugby or cricket spitting so why footballers? Even more gruesome is when you spot footballers spitting when walking down the tunnel about to go onto the pitch. Maybe they're not bright enough to realise that someone has to clean that mess up afterwards, usually a cleaner on the minimum wage. But to top it all is the footballer's nasty habit of holding one nostril and blowing down the other to expel vast quantities of catarrah. Nice. That's despite wearing a big blob of Vicks smeared on their footy shirts which helps the young, fit healthy millionaires breathe through 90 minutes.

Crap goal celebrations
In the 60's and 70's when footballers were called Norman or Ramsbottom, footballers used to shake hands when they scored. Nowadays, we have boxing spas with the corner flag (Cahill), cupping ears at opposition fans (Tevez), index finger to lips in shushing motion at opposition supporters (Arshavin), back flips (Nani) rubbish roly polys (Robbie Keane), robotic dancing (Crouch) and many numerous examples of childish walks, rolls and jumping on each other. One example which is currently getting on my nerves is the constant pointing at other players to acknowledge their part in a six yard tap in (see Wayne Rooney).

Wearing accessories
Arriving at the match festooned in huge wireless headphones, clutching a Louis Vuitton shower bag, wearing diamond earrings in both ears and having them sellotaped to earlobes during the match, wearing gloves in spring, wearing roll-neck jumpers under footy shirts, wearing t shirts displaying message like 'Team Bridge' and displaying if goal scored... the list is endless and really annoying in equal measures...

Women
Includes WAGS who try to be celebrities in their own right and especially when they launch perfume ranges. Kiss and tell wannabees who prey on our young naive millionaires and gain thousands of pounds telling lurid stories of 7 times a night sex romps in a Travel Lodge outside Alderley Edge. Wives who stand by their philandering n'er do wells despite numerous infidelities (see Toni Terry, Cheryl Cole)

Sky pundits and match reporters
Anyone who watches Sky Sports on Saturdays will know what I mean. Particular awfulness goes to Paul Merson, Phil Thompson, Chris Kamara and Charlie Nicholas. The words excitable, shouty, cliche-ridden and overly exuberant spring to mind. The phrase money for old rope also springs to mind.

Yorkshire Men
Football and Yorkshiremen do not mix. They should stick to mining, not getting their hand in their pocket, talking funny and breeding ferrets. They should stay clear of football because they are just rubbish at trying to be good. Examples of this are.. Mick 'Ah reet' McCarthy, Steve 'By eck it's raining down thee neck' McLaren, Neil 'it's everyone else's fault Sheffield yow-nited went down' Warnock and best of all.. Dean Windass. Have you ever heard Dean Windass bringing a match report from some second division ground? My God, who signed him up? Truly awful

Diving
They all go down in the box like being shot from a sniper position but some are worse than others. I'm thinking Didier Drogba. Just to digress, players who show an imaginary card at the ref, shout 'I got the ball' whilst drawing an imaginary ball with their fingers are also worth taking outside the ground for a right good kicking.

Fiddling
No, I don't mean violining in the penalty box. It's when a substitute is about to come on, all the cameras are on him awaiting this monumentus moment. The manager and coaching staff are giving detailed tactical instructions in his lughole whilst he sports a glazed nodding expression. And then it happens... our young footballer feels the need to grab his todger or gonads, stretch them a bit and rearrange them to the other side of his underpants. Just why do footballers feel the need to do that? How uncomfortable can it be sat in shorts for 30 minutes on a bench? Get a grip for goodness sake... No, perhaps not.

Excessive wages
If you have world class players, you begrudgingly have to expect that they will attract world class salaries. £120,000 a week is somewhat obscene whichever way you try and justify it. Most footy fans get really annoyed about average, third-rate players who get paid £50,000+ a week for getting erm... 8 goals a season or spending most of it injured.

Foreign takeovers
Inevitable I suppose with the amount of money especially in the premiership at the moment. United fans are very uneasy at the Glazers huge debt off set against the club. Also the Man City new money and Chelski old money hasn't landed any major prizes but sees a worrying exchange of managers at the drop of a hat. I struggling to think of many teams in the top flight without foreign owners. It's not a comfortable thought.

The games big characters
Which generally a euphemism for dickheads. Dare I mention Big Ron, little Gordon Strachan, Robbie Savage, Christiano Ronaldo, John Terry, and Barry Fry to name but a few? Oops, I just did.






Sunday, 21 March 2010

ROAST BEEF ON SUNDAY...

Busy day today although without my bank card, I couldn't do any food shopping. Shucks! Actually, I was secretly pleased that I didn't have to face Tesco on a Sunday afternoon. Never a pleasant experience.

Instead, my evening meal consisted of chippy chips and a tin of baked beans. Very rock n' roll.

Majorly disappointed with my culinary offering, I suddenly got a hankering for a Sunday roast. A Sunday dinner isn't just a meal, it's an institution, it puts the Great into Great Britain. Through the tears, I thought back when I last had a Sunday roast dinner and I couldn't remember! Does christmas dinner count? No, didn't think so.

So, next Sunday I'm going to do the full works including roast beef, home made Yorkshire puds, roast potatoes and a mighty helping of vegetables. To complete the masterpiece, the beef will be complimented by horseradish and my secret gravy (or should that be carne de jus) including a hint of Marmite. Deeelicious

Delia Smith, eat your heart out....


IT'S A GAME OF TWO HALVES....

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will have probably guessed I'm a bit of a football fanatic. My heart belongs to Man United (but I also a soft spot for Blackpool and Spurs) and of course England. I try to get to as many games as finances allow and watch all matches on tv. The one thing that really gets my goat is the language used by the footballing fraternity and in particular the inane drivel from the 'pundits'. In other words... football-speak. Here's an A-Z guide to the worst offences of footballing cliches (Glenn Hoddle take note)...

A - At the end of the day
B - Big ask
C - (All) credit to the lads
D - Different class.
E - End to end game
F - For me eg. for me.. he's different class this season
G - the Gaffer picks the squad, not me.
H - (It gives me a selection) headache
I - I'm flattered by their interest..
J - (the boy's done a man's) Job out there today
K - Keep it tight
L - And I'd LOVE it if we beat them, LOVE it...
M - Man marking, zonal marking, where was the marking?
N - Nice to get a goal but three points is better
O - (that was a lovely) one-two...
P - Play the passing game, not the long ball game
Q - bit of Quality in the final third
R - Run your socks off
S - Show him inside or Strength and depth to their squad
T - Take each match as it comes
U - Unfashionable club ...that would be Hull City then?
V - Very much so
W- (we've got to) Work hard and focus on the next game
X- X rated challenge
Y - You can't win anything with kids.
Z - row Z


CALM DOWN, CALM DOWN.....

Oh happy day... The mighty United beat their greatest rivals Liverpool 2-1 and return to the top of the premiership.

This is the big one for Manchester United and Liverpool fans. The dislike (bordering on hatred) between these clubs is legendary with both teams give 100% in trying to win the encounter. There's always loads of texts received from my Scouse mates especially when they score which adds to the edginess of the match. I remember my days at school when EVERYONE supported Liverpool. The days of them winning everything for the league, the FA Cup and the old European Cup. The days of Keegan, Heighway, McDermott and later Barnes, Dalgleish, Hansen etc. United always played decent football but there was always an envious glance towards the Anfield trophy cabinet and the success they enjoyed for so long. I had the gloating abuse from my mates for many years which had to taken with good humour and through gritted teeth. Nowadays, the tables have turned and the good times are at Old Trafford.

Today's match saw Liverpool start brightly with Torres scoring a peach of a header after 5 minutes. Rooney equalised with a penalty after 12 minutes and we went on to win the game with Je-Sung Park's header. United looked coasting at times in third gear. Liverpool looks like a spent force. At times their fighting spirit was there and they put up some great defensive work against United's attack. At other times, their heads were down and they don't look like the playing unit of old. They certainly don't look like the team that have tanned our backside on the previous three meetings.

The Republic of Mancunia are back on top and I shan't shed any tears for the Scousers...

TAT'S ALL FOLKS....

As well as the 2010 Barbie IT Professional, Mattel has brought out a new version of the doll with stick-on tattoos. Mattel say the idea was to bring Barbie up to date, however critics are up in arms claiming the doll will encourage the sexualisation of young girls.
The stick on tattoos include a mix of hearts, flowers, stars, rabbits and butterflies as well as a heart including the name of Barbie's slightly effeminate love interest 'Ken'. Chav-tastic...
Perhaps Mattel are trying to cash in on the current female tattooed celebs who are maybe looked upon as icons or role models for young girls. Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie instantly spring to mind.

I've already suggested in a previous blog about a potential 2011 Barbie WAG, but my other suggestion inspired by living outside Blackpool...
Barbie Chav - with San Tropez tan and false nails. Hair scraped back into ponytail. Accessorised by jewellery from Elizabeth Duke at Argos. Comes with three children by the age of 16. One black baby, one white (with ADHD) and one of Indian extraction complete with pierced ears. Barbie Chavette babies are named Courtney, Alisha and Shelby-Jade (female) and Morgan, Tyler and Chayse (male). Barbie Chav come with trackie bottoms, low cut tops, lots of makeup and a double buggy.

So what do Mattel have in pipeline for the next generation of Barbie dolls? Barbie Lesbian perhaps with her civil partner Danni? Barbie Poledancer accessorised with £10 stuffed in to her tiny G string? Barbie Katie with vacuous expression, huge silicon boobs, and a meat head cagefighter boyfriend?

Heaven forbid they bring out Barbie Surgeon, Barbie Red Arrows Pilot or Barbie Nobel Prize Winner....





Saturday, 20 March 2010

FREAKY FRIDAY

I had a lie in this morning. I felt I needed it after yesterday's activities. Why are Fridays so gruelling? They should be a wind-down day ready for the weekend. However, yesterday started off badly after getting to bed around 2am the previous night and managing only a few hours sleep. The hazards of community nursing sees you tying up all the loose ends with a full diary of visits and yesterday was exceptionally busy. All the visits were problematic for various complex reasons which puts you into the 'oh God the paperwork' train of thought. We managed a 5 minute grab-a-lunch and with dashboard lights warning of about 500 yards of petrol left, the car was coaxed into Asda nearby. I used one of those unmanned service stations and filled up using one of the pumps where your card is slotted in to the pump for payment. Drove off and started the next round of visits before heading to the office late to start three hours of paperwork.

Finishing near 7pm and barely able to keep my eyes open, I pulled in at my local takeaway, ordered my meal and when I came to pay, no card. That sickening feeling hits the pit of your stomach when I realised I'd left my card in the petrol pump at Asda. So, no food, got home and cancelled my card yet again after only receiving my last replacement card on Monday. Cheerios for tea and crappy Sports Relief on tv all night. Watching James Corden and Davina McCall trying to be funny yet caring about the people of Uganda was enough to make even Mother Theresa vomit.

The only highlight to an all-round crappy and bone-tiring day was receiving an unexpected call from my mate Joey who was ripping it up at last night's Paloma Faith concert at the Manchester Academy. Apparently Paloma put on a good show whilst wearing huge platform shoes despite moaning that she was tired having been up since 5am. I bet she didn't have Cheerios for her tea and left her card in petrol pump at Asda though. Now that's enough to make you 'Stone Cold Sober'.....




CORRIE LOOKALIKEEES...




















Have you ever noticed how some of our favourite Coronation Street characters have dopplegangers turning up in the most unlikely places? Take Gail McIntyre for instance. Her emotional, blinking look matched by her simpering voice of 'ooooh, mam' is matched beautifully by the prairie dog. Uncanny resemblance.


























Take Janice Battersby and Chucky from Childs Play. Both red hair, scaring staring eyes and both a bit nifty in the sewing machine department. I think Chucky is slightly less scary though...


























Kym Marsh aka Michelle Connor has been missing from her role as barmaid in the Rovers Return of late. Rumour has it she's been on some adventures as Dora the Explorer at the ITV studios as a diva in Popstar to Operastar.

Friday, 19 March 2010

NEVER DRINK PROSECCO...

Last night saw the reunion at Fishfingerbutty Towers of three of my ex-colleagues from ICL-Fujitsu. We've all known each other for years and shared the best and worst of times working in the IT industry. Two of us were outstanding in the build and test of STAPx code. Two of us blagged our way through 10 years not having a clue what we were supposed to be doing and shaking our heads in disbelief for getting away with it for so long. I was in the latter category...

The night started well with dips, a few glasses of wine and reminiscing about some of the pranks the blaggers got up to. The naughtiness inflicted against our rather impressive hourly rate was legendary.. anything to brighten up the dullest jobs in history.

A few more glasses of wine and Dogger (her occasional nickname which preserves her good name and anonymity), starts to reflect on her recent good fortune on finding her dream partner. She is in the first flush of a new romance, those heady, lusty days in the initial stages of a new relationship. Dogger is quite shy in the romance department and being the youngest of the four of us, she nervously begins to look for some sort of reassurance whilst spilling the beans on her recent naughty purchases via an online website. That was her big mistake. Trying to keep our faces straight, Dogger tells us earnestly that she's done her research on size, weight, materials, hypo-allergenic qualities and price comparison before settling on a purchase to spice up her evenings. That's what we love about Dogger. She's so logical and completely lacking in any impulsive qualities when buying something as saucy as a dildo. Research is her middle name. Moving onwards with the tale and despite squirming with embarrassment, Dogger relates the story of her getting to work, sitting in a meeting and her mobile phone rings...

'Good morning madam, it's Alexander from Loveshack UK'
D: 'Er... yeeee-ss?'
A: 'I'm afraid your order for the purple Tantus Silicon model in size medium is out of stock'
D: 'Send anything' (in a high octave, hushed panicky voice)
A: 'We only have the black mamba size large available. Shall we send that?'
D: 'Send it'
A: 'Is that a confirmed order madam? The black or purple erm.. sex toy in size large'?
D: 'YES, YES, PURPLE...FOR GOD'S SAKE SEND IT, SEND IT NOW, JUST DON'T RING ME AGAIN'
A: 'Thank you madam. I'll process your order now. Can we interest you in any love beads?'
D: 'No. Now Fxxx Off'.

You have to know and love Dogger to picture how excruciatingly mortified she would be by receiving a call like that especially at work. You'd also have to know the three of us teasing her mercilessly with questions ranging from frequency of use, does it bend, does it smell funny, do you put it in the dishwasher for deep cleansing? The story suddenly becomes darker with tales of further purchases, and fuelled with more wine we became hysterical. For the sake of propriety, I can't divulge any further, but boy it was filthy and of course, very very funny.To finish us off completely, Dogger feels the need to describe the colour of her latest acquisition. ''You know that wallpaper in my mum's bedroom? Well my new erm... bedroom thing is the purple of that small viola on the repeat pattern pependicular to the large floral print'. Bemused, she goes on to explain 'the only trouble is keeping it clean'... I use Femfresh on it but it still collects loads of dust'..

And talking of Femfresh, Dogger and I nipped over to Ireland a few years back and stayed in a B&B. I went for a shower after her, got some shower gel in my eyes and reached out for what I thought was my shampoo, squirted it onto my flowing locks only to find out in horror that I'd used her Femfresh. Dogs were following me round all round sniffing round my legs. I never realised that anyone actually bought Femfresh let alone displayed it in a shower for friends to use a later stage in a blog.

Anyway, last night has to go down as one of the best nights I've had in ages. A very late night with great mates catching up on the gossip and sharing some well-deserved laughter. It was probably the drink, but we've even considered seriously booking a 'Most Haunted' style weekend away in a tour of a derelict mental asylum down South. Mad? Yep, we sussed that years ago. It's a common bond between us......


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

TOP OF THE MORNING...

It's a special day for the people of Irish extraction because today is St.Patricks Day when enormous amounts of the black stuff is consumed in heady celebrations. We have inherited a fair amount of Irish genes and heritage from my dad's side of the family which explains our uncanny knack of being first on the dancefloor for a jig and having the gift of the blarney.

For me, St.Patricks Day will always be synonymous with working in Belfast in 1998/1999. In my previous ICL/BT life, I along with several colleagues had a long drawn out job upgrading telephony and IT cabling in a huge government office. We were in Belfast during the weekend of St Patricks Day and I don't think my liver has been the same since. Due to having to take over loads of equipment, we hired cars and set off at 4am in time for the Stranraer to Belfast ferry. Once in Belfast, we checked in to the very posh Europa hotel and started the normal 12 hour day. Quick shower, then out for a meal and search for Belfast's nightspots. Belfast then was in the midst of the Good Friday Agreement and there was still an undercurrent of political tension within the city. Walking through the city centre was like a ghost town. Very surreal to see armoured vehicles and a large police presence, but hardly any people. The next morning and it's St.Patricks Day and because of marches and parades, we decided to walk through the city to our office buildings. Amongst thousands of Irish people celebrating and cheering, I suddenly felt something was wrong as people were staring and making a walkway on the pavement in a hushed silence for us to get through. It suddenly dawned on me that I stuck out like a sore thumb because I was wearing a bright orange GAP hoodie. Without thinking, orange is perhaps not the most appropriate colour to wear amongst the swathes of green worn with Belfast pride in celebrating all things Irish. Feeling like a prize prat, I swiftly avoided being lynched by the mob and ran back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes.

Working in Belfast at that time gave you an appreciation of how important the peace process was for Northern Ireland and especially for the people of Belfast. We regularly drove down the Shankhill Road and saw the paramilitary murals on buildings and the barbed-wire walled up streets separating sections of the community. Our hosts gave us specific instructions of the areas and pubs to avoid and not to emphasise our English accents too obviously whilst out on the town. On the whole, we were treated very well and I fell in love with the city and the people who were genuinely very friendly and were more than keen to show us how they could drink us under the table.
And so to our favourite pub.. The Crown right opposite the Europa. It is so architecturally glorious it takes your breath away. The wood carvings inside are said to be completed by the same craftsmen who plied their craft on the Titantic down the road at Harland and Wolff's shipyards. Even in barmen look Edwardian in their dickie bows, waistcoats and white aprons. We spent every night there listening to bands, talking to the locals and drinking huge amounts of Guinness and Bushmills Irish whiskey. Magnificent place. Here's a photo of the booths where some boozy Lancastrians were planted most evenings in an alcoholic stupor and singing very badly about 10 years back. And for another fab place to visit whilst in Belfast, go to Kelly's Cellars. The Irish stew is to die for and theIrish bands are pretty good too...



Monday, 15 March 2010

IT'S ALL IN THE BEST POSSIBLE TASTE...

His famous creations were Cupid Stunt, Sid Snott and Marcel Wave and during the 80's, his show was viewed by millions who tuned in to his wacky and saucy humour.

BBC4 are now about to film a drama biopic about the life of Kenny Everett. The 90 minute film called 'Number One in Heaven' will focus on Everetts' troubled childhood within his Catholic upbringing. Because of his diminutive size and effeminate ways, he was singled out for a fair bit of abuse of bullying from his peers.

Kenny Everett who died of an AIDS related illness in 1995, was one of my comic heroes. He was one of early radio DJ's of considerable repute from the exciting early days of broadcasting during the 60's at Radio 1, Radio Luxembourg and Capital Radio. He was frequently sacked for his outrageous comments at a time which today's antics from Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand pale into insignificance. One of most notorious sackings came from Radio 2 when his quip ' When England had a kingdom, we had a king. When we had an empire, we had a emperor. Now we have a country and we have... Margaret Thatcher'.

During the 1980's he made the leap from the airwaves to television which showcased his immense talent to a massive audience in a wholly different format. Totally original, fearless and always getting into trouble, Kenny and his groundbreaking Kenny Everett Television Show was compulsive viewing. He had live music from guests such a Freddie Mercury, Rod Stewart and Cliff who were all sent up mercilessly. Arlene Phillips and her dance group Hot Gossip provided some very saucy dancing which had the Mary Whitehouse brigade choking on their custard creams. Cupid Stunt was my all time favourite character. Kenny dressed up as an American B movie actress who used to regail stories of her flings with Burt Reynolds and other leading men to a cardboard cutout of Michael Parkinson. Each scene ended with Kenny flinging his legs into a crossover position showing a fair expanse of knickers whilst shrieking 'it's all done in the best possss-ible taste'. Priceless.

Keep you eyes peeled for Number One In Heaven. I hope the BBC do Kenny Everett comic genius the justice he deserves.



I HATE FROGS...

Ever since I can remember I've had a phobia about frogs. This time of year holds a special dread for me as the garden is in need of a spring makeover and the lawn is requiring lawnmower treatment. I head outside with a nervous grin, sweaty palms and perspiration literally running down my back. My eyes are peeled as if looking out for commando positions set for ambushing an infantry platoon. I complete a quick reccy for movements in the undergrowth and convinced there's no frog or toad within a mile radius, I get down to gardening. Getting cocky I reach down and pull up some weeds and a frog will jump out towards my feet. At this point I have an out of body experience where my voice takes on the voice of Linda Blair from the Exorcist. In fight or flight terms, my body goes into full flight mode... arms flailing and screeching, I run off to the house and have a lie down in darkened room with a wet flannel across my forehead. Pathetic isn't it?
A couple of summers ago, the frog phobia reached a climax. It was a barmy, warm evening and I left my patio doors open to allow some cool air into my lounge. To my horror, out of the corner of my eye I saw a massive toad crawling across my lounge carpet towards my direction. So standing shaking on the sofa and going into shock I reach for my mobile and hit every button until I get my nephew who just laughs. I finally reach my lovely mate P who calmly says she'll be round in 10 minutes and do I have rubber gloves? Bloody hell, I'm having a breakdown here and all she thinks about is doing my washing up, but she explains calmly and rationally that she'll need to pick toady up and take it into the garden. Pick it up? Pick it up? I'm gipping at the thought but through the sobs decide that's a very kind option but could she come sort of... NOW. In the meantime, I have 10 minutes of confinement with Kermit and my blood pressure is at breaking point. Times of pressure need drastic action so I furtively slide my slippers across the carpet in the toad's direction. Not to hit it I hasten to add, just to warn it from messing with phobia woman and to hopefully block it from moving any further in my direction. The bastard thing just crawled over them. I then got out my hoover and started vacuuming in the surrounding area hoping the noise would scare it into retreat. It must have been a male toad because the sound of my hoover had it hopping towards my patio doors in double quick time. It was last seen heading under a bush with a Nuts magazine for a bit of p&q. P turns up and looks at me not with any admiration but with a slight pitying nod and helps me to burn my slippers to eliminate any trace of frogspawn. We spend the evening on Amazon looking for Paul McKenna's self help tapes on 'I Can Make You a Frog-Lover' but couldn't find any. I finally stopped shaking at 11.30pm.

Day off, gardening beckons, and I'm now stood at my back patio doors complete with infra-red, heat-seeking binoculars. I have my QVC flamethrower at the ready in case a frog is spotted. This time, it's war....



Sunday, 14 March 2010

MUM AND ME

It's Mothers Day when children and adults up and down the country panic to buy last minute flowers but are none the less able to spoil our mums a little more than usual.
I'll be calling in later to see my mum who will greet me with the usual 'ooh you shouldn't have spent that amount of money on flowers'.

I've always been very lucky in that I've always had a good and close relationship with my mum. The years and bad health have somewhat diluted her fiery nature, her strong independent streak, her bravery and her unconformity. However her generosity of spirit and bad cooking skills are still there. My mum asks for nothing only that I cook her something tasty for mother's day. So this afternoon as a treat, I shall be plunging lobster in to a large pan of boiling water and serving with a bistro salad and mayonnaise. We shall top it off with a glass of two of France's finest champagne whilst mum will think all her birthdays have come at once and my dad will be saying something on the lines of 'don't make me any of that fish and garlic stuff'.

My heart goes out to all my friends who have lost their mums. No day is easy but today is especially hard. I thank my lucky stars each and every day that I still have my mum around to laugh with, make a fuss of and cook lobster for.

HERE'S SIMON....

I've just caught up on the Coronation Street omnibus and it was nice to see some of scenes being filmed in Blackpool. Grandad George had brought Simon Barlow to Blackpool for the day and whilst he turned his back whilst chatting to his wife on North Pier, Simon decided to leg it. He must have just seen that the Grumbleweeds and Jedward were headlining the summer season show at the North Pier theatre. It's enough to make anyone run to the hills...

And then I remembered a previous blog where I mused over Simon's ability to scare the bejeepers out of me. I'm still not convinced he was innocent in the death of Liane the pet rabbit. Perhaps he casually read my blog whilst he had some spare time once he'd learnt his lines at Granada Studios? And now he's loose in the Blackpool area. Even Ken and Deirdre looked worried when they couldn't find him and not because he's a six year old alone in a strange town. I think they know just what he's capable of.

My doors have been locked and bolted tonight. I'm sleeping with a baseball bat under my pillow. The batteries have been changed in my smoke alarms. The police are doing hourly checks down my road. I won't rest until he's back safe in Wetherfield. Hang on, I think I can smell petrol.....

Saturday, 13 March 2010

I'M A PENSIONER... GET ME OUT OF HERE

My local paper the Blackpool Evening Gazette doesn't always cover really interesting stories. There's plenty of stories about the local water treatment plant, or the local pigeon fanciers weekend. It's not that really interesting stuff never happens in Blackpool... it really does. But every now and again, really funny stories are reported on and are normally buried away for the reader to just stumble across. The best stories involve two main characteristics inherent in Blackpool's tradition; it's wacky pensioner population and the fact that booze is easily obtained and is very cheap.

The first story which caught my eye was of a local man swearing at a mounted police officer and his police horse Sawley. He took exception at the police horse being 'ugly' to such an extent that he moved in towards the poor unsuspecting Sawley who was just minding his own business like you do when you're a police horse. The man shouted up to the police officer 'if you bring that ugly thing near me, you'll both regret it'. He then slapped Sawley across the face. The man was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and later fined £65 with £45 costs. Sawley is undergoing an intensive course of psychological treatment to rebuild his shattered self-esteem. He's a sad figure these days, spending time alone in his stable with his iPod humming along to Christina Aguilera's 'You are beautiful, no matter what they say, words can't bring you down, no nooooo, so don't you bring me down to-day'. so let that be a warning before you start necking your 2 litre bottle of White Lightning cider for £2.99.. Don't get drunk or else you may end up slapping a really ugly horse across the face and as a consequence it ends up with no self-confidence.

The second story involves disabled pensioner Margaret Busby who nipped into her local Co-Op Travel and booked what she thought was 'a nice and peaceful' holiday. The travel agent booked her into an 18-30's style Fiesta Jungla hotel in Magaluf which hosted round-the-clock parties, uncontrollable teenagers and revellers having sex in the swimming pool. That sounds like a normal Friday night out in Blackpool so you would have thought Margaret would have felt right at home.
However, Margaret described the resort as 'the holiday from Hell' and has made an official complaint. I bet she sat on her balcony for hours each evening staring at the pool area whilst wiping her bifocals muttering how hellish it was. Margaret went on to say 'it was atrocious. The hotel was called Fiesta Jungla and it was like a jungle'. Wow, you mean they had bushtucker trials and Kim Woodburn ate kangaroos testicles alongside her paella and dos cerveza por favors?

Rumour has it, she's booked two weeks all-inclusive with pool-side view in July. Purely for research purposes you understand...