Monday, 31 May 2010


Today's an important day in my calendar as it's the day I pootle off in my car to the garden centre and select a vast array of bedding plants. Every May bank holiday I afford myself the luxury of knowing that it's unlikely to be frosty now so it's full steam ahead on planet petunia. A morning stroll around the bizzy lizzies and a full gamut of plants selected. Loading the car is always a trauma as I get a hernia trying to get the compost in my boot and then stuffing about 3000 plants and muck onto car seats, head rests and back shelf. 
Today I also treated myself to a zip-up plastic greenhouse for my tomato growing. I'm expecting big things from my tomato plants which are currently about 5 inches high and have about 5 feet of plastic greenhouse to grow into. A bit of Tomorite and some strong words should do the trick. So, seven hours in my garden looking resplendent in shorts and wellies with my trug and trowel and all plants are in and watered. My new lavender bush is planted in a huge pot container and I shall no doubt be cursing all summer when I have to get past it whilst a million bees are swarming ready for the chance to sting my posterior. And so after all that planting, digging, weeding, watering and lugging about, I allowed myself a sit down to reflect. With a stubby beer in my hand, I thought what a bloody marvellous place is England in the summer when the sun shines. My home is my castle maybe, but my garden is a little slice of paradise. 


Oh dear.. I'm beginning to regret putting £10 on England to win the World Cup. I thought I was being smart when I got odds of 14-1 and saw Rooney, Bent, Defoe and Lampard stay fit and knock in numerous goals this season. We were looking hot to trot and on paper, probably good for a win in the competition that has eluded us for 44 long years. 
And then I watched a lacklustre performance against Mexico. Apart from Glen Johnson's goal, we were hardly on fire. And then to yesterday's dismal friendly against Japan in Graz. We won, yes. The manner in which we won was questionable. England won by losing a penalty and by Japan scoring two own goals. Our strike force and solid midfield goalscorers didn't manage to score and had made themselves only a few chances. This, against a team of players who are genetically shorter than average so you'd have thought Crouch would have been a option for his heading ability. Japan also rank 45th in the FIFA world rankings. England incidentally, rank 8th. 
And then there's the old chestnut about can Lampard and Gerrard play together in the same midfield? Watching yesterday's match, no they can't. We'll get slaughtered against the better teams. Capello has to choose a defensive, holding midfielder. We have three good attacking options if he goes for Lampard, Joe Cole/Walcott and Wright-Philips/Lennon. Gareth Barry's the obvious choice providing he's injury-free, but there's also Carrick and Scott Parker who should be considered. Playing Gerrard and Lampard together won't work and it will leave us exposed. 
Apart from that, a bit more practice in penalties is perhaps needed because we're sure to get Germany in the semi's and Lampard has missed two now on the big occasion. I shall stick with my initial bet for England but will also have a punt on Argentina. The bookies favourites are Spain and Brazil but who can ignore a team which contains Messi, Tevez, Maxi Rodriguez and Militto?


Saturday, 29 May 2010


After watching many years of the X Factor and BGT, here's my all-time favourite audition from 2009. It features a young, slightly delusional French waiter doing a cover version of Vision of Love by Mariah Carey, The seriousness he gives to the song and the total disbelief when he gets four ' thanks' are a joy to behold. Makes me laugh every time I see it. 
Au revoir et merci, mais non merci 


What a difference a week makes. Last Saturday we were baking in 30c degree temperatures at Wembley cheering on Blackpool to the Premiership. Today, I was stood in drizzling rain watching my godson play football for his school team. As my godson lives out in the sticks, today was a big day on the rural calendar as it was the Catterall, Nateby and St Michaels gala procession day. Another quintessentially English tradition with traditionally English weather to match. There were the usual may queen presentations (yawnsville), bouncy castles, best vegetable on show display and my personal favourite: the burger and hot dog seller. 
My godson was picked for his team in an unfamiliar goalie position. The usual goalie had injured himself so my godson stepped into the breach with gloves the size of Kent. Never before have I witnessed so many parents getting their knickers in a twist over 10 & 11 year olds playing football. Shouting at the referee and telling little Henry to 'show him inside Henry, INSIDE'. Trouble is, you stand there long enough and you get drawn in to the match and start to ooh and aaah and look to the heavens when little Jonny Clatherclapps misses an absolute sitter. My godson's six year old brother got a little bored with the football and asked if I would take him to the coconut stall instead. What the hell, we won't win anything but at least we'll have some time together. Well, the next thing, this little lad launches four beanie bags at 140mph and lands 4 coconuts. I have never seen such steely determination to succeed nor such ferocity and accuracy from a six year old's right arm. Consequently, the stall holder told us to leave and never darken his coconuts again. 
We got back to the football to see my godson picking the ball out of the back of the nets in disgust at letting a goal in. His team lost, we got wet, we had some chips, we got more wet. Oh, and we had coconut surprise for tea...

Friday, 28 May 2010


Duran Duran were featured on tonight's TOTP2 special on BBC2. Watching their performances on Top of the Pops from the 1980's is as cringeworthy now as it was back then. I was never a big fan of their music, finding it a little over-hyped and a touch over-produced. It seemed to contain a strong bass line possibly a throwback from 70's funk, the ubiquitous synthesizer 80's sound and a prominent drum beat. All this was finished off by Simon Le Bon's unusual vocals. Unusual as in recognisable, but not great. 
The problem I always had with Duran Duran was their image and poncing around the stage. I just didn't like Simon Le Bon's posturing and jumping around, which he managed it seems without too much rhythm. Add to the list bad at miming, bless him. I hated their 'new romantic' baggy trousers, shoulder pads and over use of make-up (see Nick Rhodes). Most of all, I hated their bloody videos which at the time were hailed as classics. Was I alone in thinking 'if only they'd stop that that bloody windmill sails whilst it's underwater and Simon is strapped to it'? during Wild Boys. Strange thoughts entered my head during Rio. I was desperate for that yacht to sink. Be careful what you wish for because I seem to remember SLB got in a bit of bother in the water a few years later. And another annoying thing about Duran Duran. How can three band members be called Taylor? 
Sorry, I didn't like them but the programme was interesting all the same. Please God they don't do TOTP2 tributes to Spandau Ballet, Haircut 100, Wham or OMD.  


It's Friday night and the Euro Millions lottery ticket has been purchased. The Friday night 'what will I spend my money on when I win £86m' ritual begins in earnest. Of course it's an obscene amount and of course I could make do very nicely with £50,000 but let's be honest.... EIGHTY MILLION POUNDS. Certainly life changing and certainly never going to happen but I allow myself the guilty pleasure of compiling my list of how I'd get through eighty million spondooliks... 

1. Cars - wishlist would include...classic Mercedes two seater (in photo) in silver and chrome, 1964 Ferrari 275 GTS Spider in red and a 2010 Range Rover Vogue SE in white. 
2. Property - holiday villa in South of France or Spain for family and friends.  Tuscan villa with pool. House by the beach in Cornwall. 
3. Travel - first class, and to stay in the worlds greatest hotels. Places I'd like to visit include Australia, New Zealand, the Far East, Kenya, Jordan, South America. 
4. Sporting events - box at Old Trafford, season ticket for Blackpool, Monaco Grand Prix, World Cup 2010, Real v Barca, Inter v AC Milan, summer and winter Olympics, NY Yankees home match at the Yankee Stadium, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Cricket Ashes Series (home and in Oz), all tennis grand slam tournaments.
5. Go and see the opera Carmen in Verona. Swim with dolphins. Go whale watching. Go and see wild animals in Africa.   
6. Swanky spa and health farm treatments for friends and family. 
7. Start at the UK based 3 star Michelin star restaurants and work down.
8. Ensure my family and friends are mortgage free and are well looked after. 
9. Give a big chunk to local hospice and mental health charities. 

Yeah, I know I know... Dream on. 

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


After receiving sad news today, here's a bit of light relief from the funniest woman on the planet... Victoria Wood. 
Check out the line 'not bleakly, not meekly, beat me on the bottom with a woman's weekly'. Ooh, comedy heaven. Enjoy


It's with a tinge of sadness that I write my blog this evening. One of my oldest friends from our early schooldays together has just lost her mum suddenly. I'm sad for many reasons. Sad for my friend who has just lost her best friend in sudden circumstances. Sad for her family who will no doubt be devastated at her passing. Sad for her husband who has endured the most debilitating of health problems and a more gentler, kinder gentleman would be hard to find. I'm also sad for the passing of a lady who was just that... a lady. A woman I had known for well over 30 years who was kind, quietly spoken, thoroughly decent and who led by example and saw her children grow up to be excellent wives, husbands and parents. 
My closest friends from school and through adulthood are at that age when our parents are not always in the best of health and are nearing the end of their lives. It does not mean that their passing is any less sad nor expected. Tonight I shall be thinking of Mrs. L, my old pal and all the family and shall raise a glass in her memory.   

Sunday, 23 May 2010


Is this the sexiest man ever? Quite possibly. He certainly has the sexiest singing voice and oodles of charisma thrown in for good measure. Having just watched his ITV show 'An Audience With Michael Buble' it's hard not for any woman to find him very sexy. I've seen him in concert a couple of times also and was hooked the first time I saw him. Musically, he's the tops. Stylish and slick and makes it all look so very easy. Pure class. 

So just for a bit of self indulgence, here's my top 10 list of very sexy men (though not quite as sexy as Michael Buble):- 

1. Daniel Craig - The blue swimming trunks..need I say any more? 
2. Richard Armitage - The only reason I watched Spooks  
3. Colin Salmon - Tall, dark and handsome. Lush 
4. George Clooney - lush-tastic & owns a villa by Lake Como. Enough said
5. Jose Mourinho - arrogant, Portuguese and a maverick. Very shexy 
6. Leonardo - manager of AC Milan. 
7. Johnny Depp - Loved him in Chocolat. 
8. Dermot Murnaghan - twinky blue eyes and a big flirt 
9. Dominic West - one good reason to watch The Wire 
10. James Martin - although a Yorkie, pretty nifty with an egg whisk.  


This afternoon was spent in the company of my family celebrating my delightful aunty Betty's 75th birthday. We drove over to a hotel on the promenade and were treated to an afternoon tea with jazz, pink champagne and cakes, cakes and more cakes. We have quite a big family and over the years there have been plenty of get togethers. Sadly, as time rolls on some of the older generation have either passed away or are now becoming a little frail. Today, my gorgeous aunty Betty looked a million dollars and did a speech which brought a few tears to the eyes. My aunty Betty is one of the funniest and quick witted of women who has a sharp turn of phrase and a salty mix of language which comes out every now and again. Aunty Betty is one of those true Lancastrian older generation ladies..brutally honest, speaks her mind yet has an inner core of steel and a heart of gold. I love the bones of her. 
Aunty Betty and my mum are sisters and are totally fab when together. They are the two surviving siblings of four and have such a unique bond it's lovely to watch. Unfortunately, with the passage of time they're not as sharp and quick on their feet as they once were. They are also as deaf as doorposts and a little cantankerous at times which can lead to embarrassing moments. I've noticed my mum will stare a little at someone and then make a not so subtle comment something on the lines of 'you see that Sheila over there? Her new haircut makes her look like a lesbian. Hasn't she let herself go?'. I'm cringing whilst trying to stifle a 'shush, mum please', whilst my mum retaliates with 'stop giving me black looks, she does look like a lesbian'. Mum and aunty Betty have also turned into Cissie and Ada.. Les Dawson's comedy older ladies. Only in  mixed company and when relaying a juicy story will these two 'mouth' the offending word. Offending words are on the lines of hysterectomy, homosexual, penis and sexual intercourse. I loved it once when my mum was earnestly trying to tell me about a friend's husband having cancer unfortunately on his penis. It's a joy that I'm a woman in my forties and a nurse and yet my mum tried to tell me this story but fell short of actually saying the word 'penis' instead preferring to point downwards and 'mouth' the word with no voice. And yet, I remember visiting her in hospital whilst she was still recovering from the effects of anaesthetic and I have never, nor will ever hear again as many expletives and words not heard since the Liverpool dockers strike in the 60's.   My mum still doesn't believe she said words like 'dickhead', but as I keep reminding her in christmas cards and in mixed company, she really did. Aaah, the older generation. The same will happen to me one day I'm sure of it. 
Anyway, my aunty Betty's party was lovely and was very classy which is just what she wanted. As we drove away, I pulled up in the car and looked across the bay towards Heysham and the Cumbrian mountains. Boats and yachts were sailing, people were eating strolling and eating ice creams, the sun was streaming across the sea. We have the windows down and are drinking in the vision of loveliness in front of us. And then mum pipes up.. 'I didn't like that Stephen. Bloody gannet eating all of Betty's sandwiches. He wants to watch his weight that one'. And I smile and think, cantankerous and a little eccentric they might be, but I wouldn't be without my mum and my aunty Betty. 



The most unfashionable team in history? A numpty of a manager? Average gates of only 8,500? All these things and more beside have been said and yet Blackpool Football Club defied all the odds and beat Cardiff City to make it to the top flight of the English Premiership. 
I was privileged to witness the 3-2 scoreline at a scorching and packed Wembley Stadium yesterday afternoon. Blackpool sold out their 37,000 ticket allocation way before the match and the fans played a major part on the day. Half the stadium was awash with tangerine. The noise was deafening and it was the most exciting and pulsating atmosphere I have ever witnessed or been part of at a football match. If a match was won by the sheer will of support, then it happened yesterday. I don't think the result was ever in doubt certainly not amongst the supporters. Even when Cardiff went ahead twice, the noise from the seasiders just went higher willing the goals to come. And boy, did they come! Cardiff were undone, outplayed and outclassed. When the final whistle went, myself and most people around me hugged and burst into tears. We'd just witnessed a little history being made for the people, the town and the club. We'd all felt part of it and drank in its success. I will never forget a scorching day in North London and watching a little family club win through and begin rubbing shoulders with the big boys in the Premiership. 
Congratulations to Ian Holloway, the Oyston family, the players and most importantly, the fans. I hope the neutrals will enjoy every minute of this season as much as everyone associated with the club. 

The future's bright... the future's tangerine  


Met up with an old friend the other night and we went out for an impromptu Italian meal followed by a night in our local bar listening to the amazing Deadbeats band. The Italian went pretty much to form; great meal, bit of innuendo flirting with the waiter over the huge black pepper mill and an inflated bill for drinks we hadn't had. 
Over to the bar and like a couple of old fogies, we managed to find a empty two seater leather sofa with a good view of the stage and thought we'd died and gone to heaven. How times have changed. Twenty years ago we'd have stood by the speakers, drink in hand, dancing like Pans People. Now, going for comfort on a sofa whilst being close to the loos is seen as a result. 
The band as usual were brilliant made better because live music is brilliant. A couple of covers from the Rolling Stones and the Kinks and the place was jumping. As well as watching brilliant musicians ply their craft and get the crowd going, a night spent people watching also makes the evening pass well. Comedy gold moments amongst the onlookers and from those hitting the dancefloor. We both had that mouth gaping moment observing some of the crowd who appeared to have no hint of inhibition either in the dress code stakes or when dancing. You have to admire that devil may care attitude sometimes. The table to the front of us contained a table of over-exuberant young women who we nicknamed (rather cruelly), the 3rd prizes in a shag contest. They were the sort of girls that a devil cult would target. Boss-eyed, all singing all the wrong lyrics, whilst flailing arms above their heads and swinging their pearl necklaces in time to the music, they hit the dancefloor and all three let loose with dance routines in unison which looked like they had practiced all week in front of their bedroom mirrors. Britain's Got Talent audition material if ever you saw it. 
Then there were the groupie girls. They hung around the stage gazing at the guitarists chewing gum provocatively and pulling their tops down a little to expose a hint of balcony bra cleavage. Plenty of tattoos and mini skirt on show but not blessed in the polished department. 
The climax to the evening were when the middle-aged ladies got up to dance to the Deadbeats cranking up the volume to a Guns n Roses / Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin medley. Never easy to choreograph, even Louie Spence would struggle to put a dance routine together for Paranoid by Sabbath. But these ladies weren't undeterred in their kitten heels and M&S sleeveless tops. Never before and probably never again will I witness 'Sweet Child o' Mine' being danced to by a two-lady cha cha cha... 

They're on again in 4 weeks time. Can't wait.....

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Anyone who knows me knows I'm a bit partial to a bootylicious bump and grind on the dancefloor. It used to take me ages to get dancing at parties but once up there, it was disco a go-go. Nowadays, I'm past that uncomfortable feeling of worrying about the size of my arse, whether anyone's watching, whether I can dance or whether I look in rhythm. I really don't give a shit, preferring instead to dance without too much inhibition and just within the limits of dislocating my hips. It's that delicious feeling of leaving inhibition at the cloakroom and downing a few bubbly glasses of liberation and strutting your stuff to Beyonce or the Jackson 5. 
And isn't it just fab to people-watch the wedding reception guests hitting the dancefloor? There's the dad-dancers, the air guitarists, the young girls who do all the actions and mouth all the words to Rhianna, and the boozed up girls who sing very loudly to Summer Nights during the Grease medley. I really love the middle aged women. They hit the dancefloor first and generally talk through each record. Their dance routine generally hasn't changed since 1972 and once they get warmed up they sometimes get a little risque with a nonchalant backwards flick of the left leg. If they're feeling a bit more daring after a couple of glasses of chardonnay, they might do a bit of a bum wiggle and try to act evocative in front of their mates. Generally though, it's a couple of steps forward, a couple back and a hand clap now and then complete with a rigid, non-smiling face.  Great to watch. 
For me, the best dance music comes from the 70's and 80's and you can't beat getting down and dirty to a bit of soul music. It's just so great to dance to. So in tribute to the era of Saturday Night Fever and Motown, before the age of gangsta rap, bling and hair straighteners, here's a clip from the 70's Soul Train programme for your general amusement. Check out....

Harlem's answer to MC Bruce Forsyth (Bru-Fo) with HUGE tie 
The natty mainly checked clothes  
The no-holds-barred dancing which makes you smile watching it 
The couples looking happy just dancing 
And best of all, the chubby lad wearing a tanktop - it looks like he's having his first sexual experience...priceless. 

Enjoy Mo-fo's....   

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Today I had one of those horrible, gut churning, heart-thumping, blood pressure rising moments. No, I didn't open my bank statement. It was one of those moments when someone very earnestly tells you a very sad tale (usually involving death or injury) and that horrendous urge to laugh in that person's face completely overwhelms you. It hasn't happened in absolutely ages as I thought that maturing years and a responsible profession would have cured me of what I described as 'nervous laughing'. 
Today whilst on a course, we were quite happily taking a lunch break outside in the sun and happened to sit on a stone bench complete with stone picnic table which had a memorial plaque attached for a dearly departed colleague. A lovely older gentleman came over and began chatting about the person behind the memorial and the unfortunate fate that led to his premature death. It seems he'd gone walking and whilst chatting to some other walkers on a clifftop,  was 'blown off'. The absurdity of the statement and I'm blaming the giddiness on the warm sunny weather, but I pictured this man in his walking boots and Crag Hopper waterproofs being 'blown off' in the Lakes and thinking well, at least he died a happy man. Fellatio on the Fells.. Sounds like a Wainwright Walk. The older gentleman then began earnestly saying something on the lines of 'I just don't know what came over Dennis, he was normally so good on the (cliff) head'. I know, I'm just a dirty dog who should know better, but how I managed to stifle the rising laughter was nearing impossibility until I was on the edge of a prawn mayo sandwich making a guest appearance through my nostrils. The old trusted 'think of a baby's nappy' trick works at this point to distract me from the impending disaster of laughter out loud through someone's misery.
It's happened before on many occasions. Many years ago I was in a meeting at work where you have to go round the table and introduce yourself etc. It got to a bloke opposite me and he introduced himself as 'Hi, I'm Nobby Jelley'. Cue exit, stage right trying to mimic the fact I was choking unexpectedly and would need to give myself a quick Heimlich manoeuvre in the loos to prevent premature death.
And don't get me started on seeing a colleague return from the toilets with a rolled up newspaper under his arm and about 8 sheets of toilet paper flapping in the wind from the back of his underpants/trousers. Worse still, we had open offices in those days and he'd walked the whole length of the office passing about 200 people who were simultaneously ringing extensions further down the room to warn of Mr. Morning-Poo's journey back to his desk complete with his paper wedding train.  

Childish?....yes. Remorseful?.... a little   Funny?.... abso-bloody-lutely

Monday, 17 May 2010


I was chatting to a work colleague today and she was sat there perplexed and occasionally sighing until I asked her if she was ok and was there a problem. Her problem was her basset hound dog Daisy being finally accepted to be a pat dog. Pat dogs are specially trained pets who because of their good behaviour, are deemed appropriate and useful for the therapeutic benefits they bring to older adults either in hospital or in the community. 
The trouble was, Daisy needed a passport sized photo for dog records. My (blonde) colleague was in a slight quandary because she was concerned that Daisy wouldn't sit still on the adjustable seat in Asda's photo booth long enough for the photo to be taken. At first we looked at blondie with gaping mouths thinking she was joking. Alas, she wasn't. She actually thought that the dog would need to sit on the seat, be jacked up into position and somehow be able to stick £3 in the slot whilst maintaining a 'natural' look without smiling and by removing her bifocals. Once I had stopped crying with laughter, I asked whether she wanted me to sign the back of the photos to confirm it was a true likeness of Daisy. 

Never a dull moment in nursing.... 

Sunday, 16 May 2010


As summer approaches, it's the time of year when I go a bit mad on the internet  looking for days out and places of interest. One of my favourite summer pastimes is the annual evening of outdoor theatre at our local Lytham Hall.
Illyria Tour company put on a couple of shows each year in locations usually in prestigious and stunning backdrops ie. National Trust properties. 
Illyria are a company of professional actors who produce drama / Shakespeare to a really high standard and usually with a huge dollop of fun thrown in. It's not highbrow, just a really good and different way to spend an evening out. A couple of summers ago we saw Macbeth at Lytham and it was stunning. It was a barmy summer's evening and the audience brought bottles of wine, camp chairs and staked candle lanterns. It was a lovely atmosphere, made even better as dusk approached and the performance started. We were treated to a really good evening of Shakespeare brought to life by enthusiastic and polished actors. This year Illyria are performing Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice and James and the Giant Peach for the kids. I'm hoping to attend one performance at Lytham Hall and the other at Williamson Park in Lancaster which is another stunning backdrop. 
I suppose I'm a bit of an anorak around Shakespeare plays. I became hooked during our O levels when the Merchant of Venice was part of our English Literature studies. Whilst I joined in with the murmurings of my schoolmates bemoaning the inflicted boredom of yukky Shakespeare, I secretly loved it though would never admit it lest I be forever labelled a geek. I loved the language and the intricate plots. I became transfixed when school took us to the Grand Theatre in Blackpool where we were lucky enough to see Timothy West play Shylock and his wife in real life Prunella Scales play Portia. I still harbour an ambition to watch a play at the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon, but until then, I shall make do with the excellent Illyria company outdoors in the gardens of Lytham Hall with a glass of Prosecco in one hand, some food item in the other and a tartan blanket across my legs! 

HEY, I'M A PC....

Is it just me or does anyone else see the problem and get a bit hot under the collar with the 8 second 'I'm a PC' adverts?
Microsoft has inflicted this annoying advertising campaign on us for a couple of years now starting off with 'celebrity' endorsements. Nowadays, they just show goofy American kids or goofy and smug American dads showing us how easy it is to network a PC to your TV, publish photos and do a spot of air traffic control via your $300 laptop. The phrase get a life you sad bastard springs to mind. Microsoft not only are worth billions and squillions, they are also not so clever at allowing Apple Mac a share of the market and get all handbags about it. They also commission really bad adverts. 
The end of the advert assaults our ears with the herald of trumpets (as annoying as the Intel intro) with the catchline 'Im a PC'. 
I'm a PC? Yes, very probably.. If PC stands for prize cock. Sorry, that's not very PC is it? 

Saturday, 15 May 2010


Busy day at Fishfingerbutty Towers. After securing my prized tickets for next Saturday's Wembley final, I returned home with a spring in my step. I gazed towards the heavens and saw sunny blue skies which means only one thing... hit the garden. 
Despite a still dodgy shoulder, I decided to paint and stain all the wooden things in my garden which were previously painstakingly sanded down to within an inch of their life. My shed got a Ronseal job in blue. Not the customary shed colour I agree, but it looks pretty damn good. I even managed to replace weatherboards by sawing angles without the aid of a mitre saw and nail them into position. I now own the mutt's nuts of sheds. My mower and tools now have a mo-fo crib painted blue and it has power as well. My goodness.   
I acquired an old and decrepit bench from my parents and I've repaired, replaced rotten wood, strengthened, sanded and stained it. Bloomin' marvellous. My lawn had been mown and lovingly spread with a grass conditioner! Maybe because it's worth it.... 
Most shrubs are now adorned with solar powered blue lights. I'm expecting planes to land in my garden tonight mistaken in the belief that they are indeed landing lights for Blackpool airport. I have my fingers crossed Nigel Farage isn't out in his UKIP biplane tonight. 
After all that fresh air and painting, it was inside to catch Chelski winning the FA cup. Bad luck Pompey. All the neutrals hoped you would wipe that big smug smile off John Terry's dopey face. And then I checked my face in the mirror.... covered in wood stain. I thought I'd turned into Oprah Winfrey. 


Well, we did  it. The impulsive twosome, Vic and I queued up this morning at Bloomfield Road and bought two tickets for next week's play off final at Wembley. There's a 37,000 ticket allocation for Blackpool fans so there's plenty to go round. We've got great seats in the lower tier behind the goal and will be joined by a few thousand mad Lancastrians. We also got carried away with the fan thing and bought a couple of tangerine coloured t shirts. Tangerine? Wow what a colour. Sorry Cardiff, but blue is just so boring. Tangerine... it's the new black!

Vic and I are both footy mad. Vic's a gooner and I'm a Utd fan but we're both Blackpool girls so we're out to support our local club and let's face it, our own teams failed miserably to get to a Wembley final this year. No-one will be cheering more than us two for the Seasiders to go to the Premiership this season. 

I'm also lucky to be having a few of my family going to Wembley this year. My eldest brother is over from Italy and will my joined by niece's husband and his little boy (my great nephew!). I also have two nephews going and another brother. They'll also be thousands of Sandgrownun's making it a real party atmosphere for old and young. Blackpool is a small club which makes it very family friendly. They also have a large contingent of drummers and trumpet players in the crowd so Cardiff City will be drowned out as much as possible. 

It's my first time at Wembley's new stadium and I can't wait to see it. I love football stadiums and this is renowned as the daddy of the lot. I've been to the Nou Camp in Barcelona which was awesome and I'm reserving judgement to see if it's better than that. I still have the Bernabeu and San Siro on my wish list.  I won't be buying the £10 Wembley burger though... I'm too Blackpool for that....



Friday, 14 May 2010


If there's one type of car that can guarantee to hack me off more than any other, it's the people carrier. Allow me to explain... 

It's 08.45 and you're trying to get to work. On route is 2 or 3 primary and junior schools. Outside each school and clogging up the peripheral roads are the scourge of other drivers..
a) the Chelsea tractors 
b) the people carriers

The X5's, Range Rovers and Freelanders are bad enough. It's when I'm stuck behind a young mother who opens the Citroen Picasso or Zafira car door (usually straight on to oncoming traffic) to let little Phoenix and Chardonnay out from the back seat and in to school. The mother's usually give a look to say 'hey, I'm a mother doing a very important job here and if that means holding you up, then tough tits'. 

I sit there through gritted teeth, watching these imbecilic women parking their people carriers to unload one or may be two tiny children and I wonder what on earth possessed you to buy such a huge car for taking a child to school? And then I see them unload lunch boxes, violin cases, pump bags, school bags and I still think, yeah, that's a lot of crap to unload for a midget wearing a very small pair of shorts and school tie but I still think it could get into a mini. 

I just think people carriers have that twatty statement that says 'hey, we've got kids!' 'we're fertile and need the room for an expanding family of one'. It's up there with those ubiquitous car stickers 'Princess on Board', 'Twins on board', or the worst one ever..'Powered by fairy dust'. 

And another thing. Just how far are these children being transported to school? The catchment area for our two village schools must be at least a 25 mile radius to justify getting the Zafira or the X5 revved up? Pah....

Thursday, 13 May 2010


  History Cold Case on BBC2 is a gem of a programme. It shows Professor Sue Black and her team of forensic experts from Dundee University uncovering the secrets from the skeletons and mummified remains from history. It's Time Team meets Silent Witness and it's fascinating.

Tonight, the team applied their expertise on a mummified child dating from the early 19th century. The body had been used for anatomical displays and included wax-filled arteries and blood vessels to preserve a visual effect for medical students. Bones and cells were tested for DNA and dietary intake to help detect whether the child was from the poor workhouses as was usual for the day. 

Sadly, after much testing and research, it was found that big money could be made in grave robbing and latterly even more money could be made in freshly murdered corpses and in this case, the little boy was likely to have been murdered. A likely scenario was that the boy was picked up, taken to a pub and plied with drink before being taken to a well to be drowned. The body would be taken directly to St Bartholomews ready for following morning's dissections.  

 Yes, it's macabre yet fascinating at the same time. The final part of the programme when a scientist brings the corpse's face to life using CGI technology taken from skull measurements is stunning. Seeing the little boy's face come to life after 200 years was brilliant and sad in equal measures. The final word went to Prof Sue Black who claimed that science was all very well yet bodies used in anatomy displays was bordering on immoral and therefore the little body would be buried with the dignity he deserved. I think that's the right thing to do....



My job as a community nurse is never dull. Often tiring, often challenging, often sad... but never dull. Today, I accompanied one of our ladies to a Women's Institute meeting. My exposure to the WI is limited having only watched a few episodes of French & Saunders in Jam and Jerusalem and the quaint 'Calendar Girls' film. 

On our arrival we were welcomed and many of the ladies eyed us up as new blood before popping over for a chat and an introduction. We were told that the president would be over to speak to us soon and I was impressed at the prospect of finally meeting Barack Obama, but sadly it was a lovely smiling lady with sunglasses on her head and kitten heels who shook our hands and gave us an agenda. And so, we started with singing 'Jerusalem'. I felt a childish need to snigger which stems from years at school assembly listening to our spinster teachers warbling away whilst we exchanged the words of hymns into more words with a more lavatorial leaning. Anyway, I remembered that I'm no longer 14 and stifled my childish humour and was in awe at the ladies ability to remember and sing 6 choruses of Jerusalem. 

The president and her sidekick secretary then went through the agenda and  minutes of the previous meeting which was great. 'Matters Arising' covered topics like "Elsie Crabtree wants to inform us about the Knitting Hats for the Uzbekistan Orphans campaign" or "Beryl, can you let us have the fundraising figures for the recent surgical jockstrap singalong night?'. Rich pickings for a comedy sketch and beautifully English. It's easy to see how we won Empires and wars. It was bureaucracy in action and quintessentially British in application. A guest speaker was introduced to give a speech on the seven ages of woman and to be honest, my expectations were low. I imagined references to tea-towels and a woman's place baking and making gravy. What we got was a Helen Mirren lookalike, a ballsy, intelligent, street smart, sexy 60-something lady who spoke eloquently for 30 minutes about the great things about being a woman. She spoke with humour and with passion and I was very impressed. 

I'm not sure I'm ready for the WI just yet, but I was pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm and camaraderie. Makes you proud to be British...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010


It is with much annoyance that I sit here typing slowly with one hand after goosing my shoulder yet again. In technical terms, I have torn my rotator cuff, have a tear in my deltoid muscle and have tendonitis. This splendid list was the conclusion from a junior doctor after spending nearly 3 hours in A&E last night. To my embarrassment, having sat there in agony and finally being seen, stretched and pulled, I started off bravely enough but one twist too many and the tears began to flow. Fortunately, the doctor was very nice and didn't roll his eyes or stick his head round the curtains shouting over to his colleagues 'Christ, we've got a right mard arse here'. 

I've always been a softie when I hurt myself. I seem to have a weirdly low pain threshold and just can't stand pain like other stoical souls who face pain with enormous bravery. I'm just crap with pain. Always have been. There's 3 things I can guarantee will happen on the onset of me suffering severe and enduring pain...

1. cry 
2. vomit 
3. faint 

Anyway, I had a week off work and was perhaps doing too much lifting, digging and building in my garden. I have to remember that concreting, re-roofing sheds, jet washing, taking 3 tons of crap to the tip, painting fences and sheds, digging and mowing is not as easy to joints and muscles that aren't 21 any more. 

The prognosis was that it'll get better if I take ibroprofen, painkillers and rest. Showering, drying hair, putting bra on, taking bra off and blow-drying hair is near-impossible. And don't mention changing gears whilst driving. It's pure agony and sleeping is madly difficult. 

Excuse me a minute... I think I'm going to cry and vomit....


I'm watching the breaking news of Gordon Brown's resignation as Prime Minister of Great Britain. It brings 13 years of New Labour government to a sad end. Sad in that it paves the way for the two public schoolboys and thoroughly Oxbridge Dave and Nick, to take over governing our country. Time will tell whether this coalition will be successful and bring about the promised change for the better. 

I only hope Labour bring in a new leader with verve and vision. Brown is no doubt a competant politician and his resignation has been undertaken with a fair degree of dignity. He just didn't command the confidence of the people or perhaps even privately amongst his colleagues. Perhaps his successor will bring in the 'Obama' factor and give the Labour party a fresh approach. I hope he or she gives Dave a real run for their money in their commons. In the meantime, here's some things Gordon may want to consider now he has some free time on his hands....

1. Pairing up with Erin Boag on Strictly Come Dancing 2010.
2. Celebrity Wife Swap - Gordon & Sarah and Bobby Ball & Von. 
3. Hell's Kitchen - Two grumpy Gordon's with knives? Ooh er
4. Compare of the Brit Awards 2011. 
5. Editor of Carp Weekly 
6. Inland Revenue Inspector 
7. Manager of Hull City FC 
8. The bloke bringing on the oranges at half time - World Cup 2010
9. Job Centre advisor  
10. Salesman - Harveys the Furniture Store   

Saturday, 8 May 2010


Blackpool FC took a step nearer the premiership today when they beat Notts Forest 2-1 in the play-offs. It's heady times at the club with the premiership getting tantalisingly closer. 

I watched the match on Sky this afternoon and was blown away by the atmosphere generated by the brilliant seasider fans. The fans and everyone at the club deserve some success - after all it's been a long time coming since the last flush of success from the Matthews and Morty glory days of the early 50's.  

Three people deserve massive credit for the latest success at Bloomfield Road... 
Karl Oyston, 'Pools chairman who has kept a tight ship and finally delivered on the new stadium which is magnificent. Ian Holloway who has managed the team through to the play-offs and has engineered the team into an excellent footballing unit (especially at home), and lastly..Charlie Adam, Blackpool's midfield talisman. He's the lynch pin of the squad, scores a few goals, takes the penalties and is not afraid to put the boot into a tackle. 

There's a long way to go yet and I really hope they do it. Blackpool hosting Man Utd and Chelsea next season? Wow, what a prospect...

The future's bright... the future's tangerine.


It's the morning after the night before following my mate Dogger's surprise birthday party. After much planning and careful instructions on arrival times and where we should park cars (3 miles away to avoid detection), the party got off to a great start with birthday girl arrived with an appropriate look of surprise across her mush. It was only later that she disclosed that she knew something was going on, there was just too many things that didn't add up. Honestly, nothing gets past Miss bloody Marple. 
It was great to catch up with some old workmates and to marvel in the gorgeous food and more alcohol on display than Bargain Booze. It didn't take long before the cheeky vimto's were flowing. To anyone who hasn't sampled one, it's a blue WKD and port. Once combined, some view it as tasting of vimto. To me, it tasted of Benylin with the threat of imminent stomach pumping. I'm a rubbish drinker so one slurp was enough for me. 

One of the party goers works in the IT industry by day and is a magician by night. Fabulous! Out come the elastic band tricks, card tricks and coin tricks ably assisted by his glamorous assistant dressed in spangly leotard / party outfit and winning smile ie. moi. I can see why Phil chose me for this role. Call it the humour, the pleading and the more than passing resemblance to Debbie McGee. Anyway, once I was sawn in half, it was on to the important stuff like hitting the buffet which was superb. 

The party trundles on and the spliffs are handed round to a huddled, giggling mass loitering outside in the doorway. I was just there in my leotard purely for research purposes and to let doves out of a top hat to amuse my mates whilst they were all smoking. 

Anyway, time to go in the early hours and I'm driving home through country lanes with one of my oldest mates chatting away. Ahead in the headlights is a hedgehog crossing the road and as I swerve to avoid it, it must have legged it in fright and I hit it with my back wheels. After a hideously sounding bump, I felt sick, not to mention a murderer. We drove on in silent sobs until we got to our local town, when whilst waiting at traffic lights, a police van behind me started flashing its blue lights. With panic rising in my voice, I thought the police could see blood splattered on my the back of my car, or that it had become illegal to drive a car under the influence of a sparkly leotard and smelling of sausage rolls. I pulled over and with my usual guilt started my compulsion to confess every murder in Lancashire since 1978, all car thefts and for watching every episode of Big Brother since it started. I needn't have bothered, the police van sped past, no doubt on its way to some important crime on the Fylde coast with a proper criminals.  

Morning has arrived and I'm building up the courage to go outside to inspect my car for a dead, flattened hedgehog stuck to my back radials. It's with shaking hands I head towards my shed for my Karcher jet washer....  

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


It's the night before the eagerly awaited general election and if we're to believe the polls, it looks like Gordon Brown may be sent packing tomorrow. In some ways it's a shame. When New Labour first swept to power in 1997, there was an upsurge in feeling not previously seen in the UK for many years. It felt positive, it felt fresh and you felt good times were ahead. And indeed to some extent, they have been. Under Tony we had sustained low interest rates, a good economy, low mortgages, money poured into education and the NHS. 
Then Gordon came along and inherited his position from an alleged 'deal' in a London restaurant many years before. He wasn't an elected PM and that rankled with many people. Where Tony Blair was upbeat, Gordon Brown was dour. He inherited his position at the worst possible time. We were in the midst of global terrorism, we were sending our troops into Iraq and Afghanistan to search weapons of mass destruction which never materialised, we slipped into a global recession and our banks collapsed under the strain of the credit crunch. The UK borrowed heavily to unprecedented levels whilst bank executives took multi-million pound pensions and pay offs. Gordon continued to make gaffes, even this week calling a labour supporter a bigot picked up to great effect on his microphone. A hasty apology was made but the damage was done. MP's and ministers tried three times in vain to oust him over the past few years yet he stayed. I'd imagine they wished they had now... 

It's possible that Gordon will be a loser tomorrow though not so much as David Cameron. He had it sewn up, he was way ahead in the polls and then he consented to the live debates. Along comes personable Nick Clegg and bish bash bosh, smash and grab job on a fair proportion of the Tory vote. Image matters. Image wins. Clegg did well and I think will do well tomorrow. A hung parliament is still on the cards....



Coming from Blackpool, it was with interest I watched the first episode of Three In A Bed, Channel 4's latest twist on the Come Dine With Me phenomenon.  It's a simple formula of three B&B owners spending the night in each other's establishments, sampling the hospitality and local tourist attractions. At the end of the night's stay, the couples pay the owners what they think the room is worth. Simples... 

The first episode pitted the old favourite cliche of the North-South divide. One B&B in Dorset with an older. slightly eccentric couple pitted against a Blackpool 5 star B&B charging something outrageous like £200 per night, and a cheap and cheerful B&B in Skegness run by a lovely married couple. Initially, the Dorset B&B was given some constructive criticism like 'it could do with a bit of a clean' which was enough to reduce the lady owner to floods of tears. At this point, you know the programme is on to a winner. The Southerners hit Blackpool with a look of disdain and comments like 'Yuk, it's so Northern, you know, for Northern people'. The same look was dispensed in Skegness but the likeable couple with the spotlessly clean B&B won the honours. 

Last week, we were shown the hospitality provided by Bournemouth's self-proclaimed male ex prostitute, rent boy, male model and gay B&B owner who only rents his rooms to gay and bisexual men. His entertainment evening treated the other B&B owner guests to tantric sex breathing lessons. Truly horrific. 

You kind of get the flavour of the programme. Yes, we get to see B&B's, landladies, full English breakfast and a big spoonful of eccentricity. But perhaps the more subtle undercurrent is class. The undertones are there throughout. From Camilla and Rupert's B&B in the South East charging £150 per night and throwing in bath robes through to Barry and Denice's in Morecambe who throw in a tea making machine and UHT milk. I made that up but you get the drift? It deliberately pits the opposites against each other and encourages confrontation. At times, it's a little uncomfortable when B&B's which are obviously cherished by their owners and take up many, many hours of hard work are picked apart because the duvet sets may be more Argos than Laura Ashley. All that said, it's compulsive viewing and another winner for Channel 4. 


Without a hint of holier-than-thou-ness, it's 5 years ago this week that I quit smoking for good. After 20 years of smoking and by my reckoning 150,000 cigarettes later, I decided that I no longer wanted to be a Fag Ash Lil. No one likes a reformed smoker especially when because they've stopped, they feel compelled to encourage everyone else to stop. I've tried hard not to fall into the sanctimonious category. No one likes a smug bastard either. 
My reasons for giving up? I hated the thought of being compelled to stand outside public places in the pouring rain. It shames me that's the reason for giving up a habit rather than the most pressing reason which should always be it causes cancer and will contribute to an early death. No, good old rebellious me. Can't stand being told what to do by the nanny state so I'll show 'em... I'll stop. Thicko here realised later that is exactly what the nanny state hoped I would do.. doh! 

I suppose I was always going to be a smoker. My parents both smoked. My mum, without the benefit of health education, smoked throughout her pregnancies. My siblings all smoked. Nearly all my friends smoked. To start smoking on 10 Number 6 and to start drinking on half a lager and lime was a rite of passage for anyone growing up in my era. It seems incredible to think we grew up going to cinemas with a non smoking section (about 3 rows) at the ABC Blackpool and we flew in jets where people smoked non-stop from rows 6 to 48. Nowadays, it rare to come across a smoker. That is, unless you work in the NHS!  

Giving up was pretty hard for the first week at least. I started on patches until the burn of nicotine on the upper arms drove me mad. And then there's the food craving. Blimey, it's true everything tastes better and twiglets are a great substitute for a quick B&H. 

So now, 5 years on and pop-pickers, here's my top 10 of none-holier-than-thou reasons for giving up the fags...

1. Your hair smells nicer 
2. You will have more money.
3. You won't wheeze 
4. You won't get as many colds, chest infections and bronchitis 
5. You won't have to stand outside in the rain whilst at the pub
6. Your life insurance costs less
7. People prefer kissing a non-smoker 
8. You won't have to wash ashtrays 
9. You won't have to decorate as often 
10. You will live longer. 

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


I'm back after a 3 week break from blogging and using my laptop. Wow, what a lot has happened and no blogs to show for it. 
Clegg, Cameron and Brown have gone head-to-head in the televised debates with the media speculation that Clegg has increased his popularity and a good share of the vote following three self-assured performances. TV has been awash with political debate, polls and policy. I'll be glad when May 6th is finally over. 

A volcano erupted in Iceland causing travel chaos around Europe. It should give Ryanair a good excuse to grab some lost revenue back by charging passengers for excess fares for instance, an extra £10 for having a large arse, and extra £'s for a window seat, toilet paper and to use the plane steps. 

Chelsea look good for winning the premiership especially with Gerrard's delightful back pass. The Liverpool fans who were cheering for United not winning the title, should perhaps be questioning why Mr.Liverpool couldn't do a pass like that more often for Torres during the season rather than for Drogba at the end of it. Good news is that Blackpool made the play offs. An outstanding result for the team and for the town. One season up there, that's all Blackpool ask for. Heady times indeed for Ollie and the Seasiders.

The BBC showed the best drama I've seen in ages. Five Daughters showed the harrowing tale of the girls murdered recently in Suffolk and portrayed their lives of drugs and prostitution yet reminded the viewer that each girl was loved and cherished by their families. BAFTA award winning drama at its absolute best and I salute the BBC for commissioning it. On the flip side, Britain's Got Talent returned with the same old bizarre acts with an occasional glimpse of brilliance. The young, nervous accountant who sang Maria from West Side Story  was captivating and I hope he goes far.  

And finally, the weather got better! Weekends have been spent in my garden. My bedroom windows are open at night and the t shirts are getting an airing. I love spring because you know summer is around the corner. I feel better and happier. It's good to be back....