Sunday, 31 October 2010


Halloween became a little more scarier with last night's dance routine from Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke. Ann, it perhaps doesn't need reminding, is a lady of maturing years and a former minister of the British conservative government. Part of me thinks that a lady of advancing years, with a fair degree of intelligence, respectability and integrity perhaps shouldn't be putting herself up for public ridicule on a programme like Strictly Come Dancing. However, the fun part of me (yes, there is one despite my rants over Halloween) thinks go for it girl! She's enjoying it, the viewers love it and she's having the time of her life. Yes, it's a little car crash at times, it makes you cringe quite a lot of time, but blimey it's good entertainment. SCD epitomises good all-round family entertainment and Ann and Anton deliver week after week. They won't win it and I'm sure they'll be controversy ahead when better dancers are voted out, but for the time being, they're great to watch and you can't help but smile when they come on. Bravo the BBC for producing this programme. Not everyone's taste granted, but it is a perfect little gem of a series. Bravo to Ann for having a go and for sticking two fingers up at the snipers who poke fun at her week after week. And bravo to the brilliant Anton du Beke who despite having another mercurial no-hoper, makes it fun and a joy to watch. Keeeeep dancing........


Trick or Treat! It's a phrase I dread probably more than 'Would you like a copy of the Watch Tower madam?'. Tonight's the night when Ms Grumpy FFB comes to the fore, my front door gets hammered by painted midgets, and I lose any semblance of tolerance I have left. I hate Halloween about as much as St Valentines Day. Probably more actually, because at least on SVD, there's always a chance someone gives YOU chocolate. Halloween junk is the sale in the shops roughly from 2nd August. For some inexplicable reason, parents buy in to this nonsense and traipse their indulgent little prince and princesses around the streets in exchange for sweets. Why, pray why? Do these parents not have sweets at home? Do they not understand that older people who live on their own might get a touch frightened by a doorbells being rung up to 10pm at night? Do they not realise that not everyone thinks Halloween is 'fun' and constantly getting up to answer the door prevents them from enjoying a bit of peace and quiet in their own homes? No, sorry I hate Halloween and the commerialism it stands for. I'm just off to wire my doorbell up to the mains supply... Definitely a trick rather than a treat. 

Friday, 29 October 2010


Driving home the other day, I travelled through local villages with quaint old English / Lancastrian names such as Esprick, Staining and Hardhorn. Growing up around these parts, you become accustomed to these slightly unusual place names. They raise not an even an eyebrow, let alone a titter. But, in the spirit of sharing and being always on the lookout for inspirations for the FFB blog, I began my search for the UK's greatest village and town names for the general amusement of my friends and family.  

Consider these little beauties, and thank your lucky stars you don't live there..

Acocks Green (Worcestershire, England) 
Allanstank (Aberdeenshire, Scotland) 
Bachelors Bump (Essex, England) 
Balls Green (Kent, England)
Bedlam Bottom (Hampshire, England) 
Beggars Bush (Sussex, England) 
Bell End near Lickey End (Wales)
Cock of Arran (Isle of Arran, Scotland)
Cockintake (Staffordshire, England) 
Crapstone (Devon, England) 
Dogdyke (Lincolnshire, England) 
Faggot (Northumberland, England) 
Gay Street (Sussex, England) 
Horneyman (Kent, England) 
Killiecrankie (Perthshire, Scotland) 
Lickarmoor (Northumberland, England) 
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Wales) 
Lord Berkeley's Knob (Sutherland, Scotland) 
Minge Lane (Worcestershire, England) 
Muff (County Donegal, Ireland) 
Pennycomequick (Devon, England) 
Pity Me (Co Durham, England) 
Scratchy Bottom (Dorset, England) 
Shaggs (Dorset, England) 
Thong (Kent, England) 
Titley (Herefordshire, England) 
Twatt (Orkney Islands, Scotland) 
Ugley with an Ugley Green (Kent, England) 
Wash Dyke (Norfolk, England) 
Wetwang (East Yorkshire, England) 
Wigtwizzle (Yorkshire, England) 

Monday, 25 October 2010


I don't know what came over me. Call it a moment of madness, but I just felt compelled to include Wagner's performance from Saturday's X Factor. It is so utterly dire, so stinky, so comprehensively horseshit in its entirety, that it beggers belief. This could be a terrible move as I have had the good fortune to have acquired a blog follower (hello MartyrMom) from across the pond and of course, you want to show off your country's attributes to their very best. You see, here in the UK, we like to think we know a thing or two about music. From this sceptred isle, this England, this creative melting pot of innovation and originality, step forward The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, The Smiths, Coldplay, The Arctic Monkeys to name but a few. We also know a thing or two about insanity. It stems from our rich heritage of aristocratic interbreeding and syphillis which through the years has manifested itself nowadays as the conservative government. The X Factor programme is the result of when music and insanity meet head on. 

MartyrMom, this is for you. On behalf of England, may I take this opportunity of saying I'm truly very sorry....


I'm still haunted after watching Wagner's 'performance' on this week's X Factor. Wagner is a personable bloke, it's just he looks like an early 1970's porn star and doesn't so much sing, as speak very loudly into the microphone in his Brazilian accent. This week, his mentor Louis Walsh had Wagner 'singing' Spice Up Your Life mixed with Livin' the Vida Loca whilst sharing the stage with numerous female Brazilian calypso dancers who took their tops off. Louis Walsh reminds us almost constantly that he's a successful and credible music man -  a manager of credible bands such as erm.. Boyzone and Westlife. I tell you what he's famous for... picking 'speciality acts' that are so awful (see Jedward for further proof), he bombards our screens with them under the premise of 'they're fun, they're different'. No Louis, they're crap. Totally crap. Wagner of course, stayed on the programme last night despite being so appallingly awful, and a young lad with a delightful, soulful voice got booted off. Funny that he was also under Louis' mentorship and was given a song which was as dreadful as his silver zoot suit. 
It remains to say, just who the friggin hell is voting for Wagner? It can't only be the criminally and mentally insane can it? And then I saw this clip on You Tube and didn't realise that Wagner appealed to no other than Stephen Fry. Very tongue in cheek, but it made me laugh. Unlike Wagner, who inspires the nausea and tourette's in me...

Sunday, 24 October 2010


KT Tunstall's supremo performance the other night got me thinking about another of my all-time favourite gigs. Some time ago, I saw the very diminutive Jamie Cullum in concert, again in a small venue in Manchester. No tricks, no stage dancers, no pyrotechnic staging.. just this little chap at the piano with his band singing jazz. Utterly stunning musically and he has such an infectious stage presence which pulls you in to his music. And then, he will sing an old classic like 'But For Now' and which will reduce you to tears because it is so stunningly performed whilst you can't hear a pin drop in the place. And to all height deficient blokes out there... singing and playing a piano this well is very, very sexy and you never know, it may also help you bag a supermodel. It worked for Jamie. But for now, here's the track that brought him to everyone's attention...

Saturday, 23 October 2010


After the John Terry England captaincy debacle earlier this year, I was blogging about the possibility of the captain's armband going to Wayne Rooney. Married, family man, talisman of the team, player of passion and loyalty, hero to supporters and youngsters alike. And then tabloid stories emerged on Rooney's dalliances with prostitutes during his wife's pregnancy. England performances hit an embarrassing level and his form for Manchester United reaches new depths of crapness. Sir Alex benches him with an 'ankle injury' which is a euphemism for 'sorry Wayne, but you ahem.. couldn't score in a brothel', and suddenly Wayne wants out. In a week of breathtaking cynicism and opportunism, Wayne looks across to the Saudi-trillions blue side of Manchester and all of sudden United are forced into looking to cash in on their talisman rather than see him sail off into the sunset on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling. The grubby goings on this week expose more of what is wrong with modern day football, footballers and money-obsessed agents.  I doubt that Rooney will never be spoken of in the same terms as Best, Charlton, Greaves, Moore. The footballers who as boys, played their football on the streets and who grew into men with nobility, with club and country loyalty and were worthy of being hailed as heroes.   
The situation brought out Sir Alex Ferguson to call a press conference of never before seen humbleness and paternalism. He appeared genuinely hurt by Wayne's 'infidelity' and seemingly took the slant rather personally. Players have often crossed Ferguson and wanted out of Old Trafford. Stam, Heinze, Whiteside, McGrath, Beckham, Ince, Van Nistelrooy to name but a few could testify to Ferguson's ruthlessness. Ruthless and media-manipulating he may, but Ferguson is also a pragmatist. He realises all too well that Manchester United needs Wayne Rooney and pulled out all the stops to keep him. It's said that Ferguson spoke personally to Rooney and reminded him of the club's history, its traditions, the success and trophies, the romance of Old Trafford and what it means to pull on the red shirt. He reminded him that to cash in now for a move to Eastlands might considerably strengthen his bank account, but would he want to be a pariah and remembered for all the wrong reasons. Despite their often lack of brains and their unnerving ability to be swayed by the riches, footballers also have huge ego's and perhaps the penny dropped that a move from a place like Old Trafford might not the brightest idea. Of course, a hefty increase in salary with a promise of world class players being bought to increase the challenge for cups and premierships have have helped, but Rooney decides to stay and all is now rosy again on the red half of Manchester. 
Or is it? As a diehard United fan, I for one don't feel in mood for celebration at Rooney's decision to stay. I haven't heard much of an apology to the United fans yet. I will wince when Rooney scores and goes running off towards the corner flag clutching his shirt and kissing the Red Devils badge with gusto. Do what the club pays you millions to do and score shedloads of goals. Show some passion and commitment in helping United win the premiership and Champions League and we may just forgive you. For now....   

Friday, 22 October 2010


Had a top-tastic night out last night when the Jolly Girls outing took us to Manchester to see KT Tunstall at the Ritz. I've heard much about the Ritz but had never been there, so off to Whitworth Street just off Oxford Road we headed after a meal stop in the city centre. The Ritz is an iconic dancehall dating back from the 1920's. My dad even danced there in the early 50's! We were hit with that heady buzz of anticipation when we first walked in. The place is gloriously dark, intimate, with a springy dancefloor that your feet stick to with a trillion split pints of Boddingtons. It smells weird, the bar staff are quirky, and it's just a perfect little gem. Many famous bands have played there - The Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys, Happy Mondays, The Smiths and even a little band called the Beatles. As soon as KT started her set, you soon realised the place had superb acoustics which made the place absolutely rock. I'm a big fan of hers anyway, but last night she was on top form. There were plenty from the new album but she really wowed the audience with her oldies 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree', 'Saving My Face' and my absolute favourite, 'Heal Over' which much to my chagrin, moved me to tears. Her finale built up to climax with a truly awesome new track 'Madame Trudeaux', a cover version of Erasure's 'Give a Little Respect', then her rip roarer 'Suddenly I See'.  
Watching years of the turgid X Factor fodder and going to huge stadium tours, it was totally refreshing to go to an intimate and atmospheric venue to watch musicianship at it's best. Even though my feet stuck to the carpet and the place stuck of dirty underpants, it gave me a huge reminder as to why I love music and live gigs at these types of venues. You connect with it, you're part of it, you dance like a banshee, you sweat like a racehorse on steroids and you  spill beer down yourself.. but I wouldn't have swapped last night for anything. I also got to meet up with my lovely nursing buddies who are not only rock chicks, they know how to shop for Manchester's bargains in Ugg boots as well. Awesome...

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


It was with a heavy heart but with not much surprise that I read the results from a survey on British nautical history conducted on the UK's schoolchildren. It was a small sample of school kids granted, but the research seems to show that our nation's bright young things are pretty clueless when it comes to our great nautical history. Brace yourself for some of the statistics found from the survey...

Most children thought the Spanish Armada was a tapas dish. 
..most thought Walter Raleigh invented the bicycle.
...14% thought that 18th century explorer Captain Cook was at the helm of the Starship Enterprise.  
...some thought Horatio Nelson captained the French football team 
...and that the Battle of Waterloo was held at a London railway station. 
...75% though that Trafalgar Square was in EastEnders.
...1 in 10 thought that a picture of Bluebeard was Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean.
Perhaps rather amusingly, 1 in 6 thought that Nelson's Column commemorates Mandela's release from captivity. I love that.

The research was carried out to mark Trafalgar Day which commemorates Nelson's defeat of the French and Spanish 205 years ago. Perhaps the worrying thing from the survey is how blissfully ignorant British schoolchildren are of our nation's rich maritime history and heritage. Sadly, many of the children questioned hadn't been on a boat, many couldn't remember the last time they had been to the seaside or seen a lake, and 5% had never taken a step in the sea.  

Do children not read books any more? Is our nation's history getting taught in schools these days? Should this worry you? It does me. 

Monday, 18 October 2010


The iPod was on full volume yesterday whilst the housework was completed with a loving and efficient touch. I've got a whole playlist on rock tracks which need an increased volume to appreciate them fully. Some of the tracks have not been heard for ages but blimey, they're a great backdrop for ironing, hoovering and dusting. The tracks got me thinking about guitar riffs and how they have inspired millions of people to air guitar in front of the mirror, or drive a little too fast around country lanes. So, just for a bit of fun, here's my top 20 take on the greatest guitar riffs of all time, starting with the very brilliant Chuck Berry and Johnny B Goode.... 

Sunshine of Your Love - Cream 
Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns n Roses 
Rebel Rebel - David Bowie 
All Right Now - Free 
Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin 
Back in Black - ACDC 
Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) - Jimi Hendrix 
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
You Really Got Me - The Kinks
Rock n Roll -Led Zeppelin   
Layla - Derek and the Dominoes 
Day Tripper - The Beatles 
Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix 
Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison 
Heartbreaker - Led Zeppelin
Vertigo - U2 
Seven Nation Army - White Stripes 
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana  

I'm sure there's a million others I've left out. Feel free to add any further suggestions....

Friday, 15 October 2010


It seems I may have to sign off soon and lay low for a while.. for it seems that I have a reward on my head for crimes against the DVLA and this town just ain't big enough for the both of us. The problem is that Bonnie Parker here has had a blonde moment and has failed to renew the MoT which means I've been pootling around in my eight year old car which smells of wet dogs without a valid MoT certificate for over three weeks. For 3 days I've been trying to get hold of the mechanic who normally sorts out the MoT and servicing and finally managed to get the car booked in for tomorrow. But today, rather than get a taxi (too tight) or a bus (heaven forbid), I drove my car the couple of miles to my parents house and nearly had heart failure when I had to pass a police car with the scariest policeman sitting in it. I tried to look carefree and nonchalant, but this only ever makes me look more guilty. It's true, I never get away with anything due to my face displaying the guilt of a million sinners. Airport 'nothing to declare' lanes are the worst. For years, I trundled through, whistling and trying to look innocent whilst the duty free booze and 76 cartons of cigarettes were rattling away in my suitcase, only to get stopped every time by the Customs Officer stretching their latex gloves and with an evil glint in their eyes. My friends and family would sail through whilst I was stopped every time. Of course these days, with a grudging acceptance of my guilty face and ridiculous willingness to sing like a canary over every act of misdemeanour ever committed since birth, I just don't bother bringing anything back. With the onset of a responsible job, I have never ever strayed from the straight and narrow and can normally be relied upon to pay things on time and to ensure cars etc are legally insured, taxed and MoT'd. That was until now. I'm expecting my door to be hammered tonight by the policeman who I just know took my car registration number and thought to himself 'I'll have that guilty looking bird later'. I've been watching Bad Girls on Sky CBS Drama for tips on getting through a prison sentence at an all women's prison. The phrase 'fresh meat' fills me with horror. 'Ok ossifer, I'll come quietly'....


Be careful what you wish for?...a previous blog sounding off about Costa Coffee (and coffee houses in general) had me ranting about the high street takeover of these brands and their total ineptitude at providing good service. Their coffee is great don't get wrong, albeit a touch overpriced, but my problem goes far deeper than their ability to provide a single shot espresso after having queued for roughly 15 minutes. My problem is that the Caffe Nero's, the Costa Coffee's, the Starbucks are all so 'samey', lacking in any comfort, overpriced, and dull. The biggest problem is when the UK tries to replicate an American or continental idea. A bit like when you go to Disneyland World Showcase and Disney produces 'England' with thatched cottages, an English pub, Beefeaters and red letterboxes. Watch 'The Apprentice' to see what a pig's ear 22 year old marketing executives make of a 'concept' and I get the impression that the same applied when the Nero's etc were bandied around the marketing and branding departments of these companies. Yes, I daresay they are hugely successful, but not because they are 'world class' in service or product, but because they were a refreshingly new and 'trendy' alternative to the high street cafes. 
The alternative? My blog begged for the return of old-fashioned tea houses. I'm a little too young to remember Lyons Tea Houses that used to grace many a town or city centre, but after hearing my parents generation talk about them with a nostalgic sadness at their passing makes you yearn for their return. Classy establishments with booths or clean and comfortable tables and chairs, well-trained waitresses in clean black and white uniforms who serve you at the table, a wide range of tea served in decent crockery with teapots that don't leak all over the table and your hands, beautiful sandwiches and cakes made freshly that day on the premises on three-tier cake stands.... You see, that's what we used to be good at and we still could be. Brand UK. Check out Betty's Tea Rooms in Harrogate for a fine example of how this works beautifully. My personal favourite is a little Victorian tea room in Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria. They also have their own bakery and make their own chutneys so you are served the freshest and finest in food and tea, then get the opportunity to take a shedload home with you. It's pure heaven and I go there as often as I can to read their newspapers and sit back and watch the glow of happiness on the faces of the Grange townspeople that they get to enjoy this little gem all year round whilst the rest of us have to put up with Caffe Nero, Costa and Starbucks. 
And so today with uplifted heart, I read that entrepreneurs are hoping to step back into the halcyon days of the tea house by opening the first Cadbury Cocoa House next week to be joined by 50 more in the next five years. They want to challenge the coffee and ciabatta culture and return to more nostalgic and traditional 'Ritz-style' tea for two offerings such as smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches and baked scones combined with Twinings tea. They are looking to furnish the tea rooms with chandeliers and furniture made by British  craftsmen. Sounds great - just wish Marks and Spencer would have jumped on board as well as their tea and freshly baked scones are superb. Their global  brand name isn't bad either when it comes to quality and service. But I shan't complain, but will instead rejoice at the prospect of classy Tea Houses back on the High Street -  Hallelujah!     

Monday, 11 October 2010


Sorry to disappoint you as you rush to read my blog after spotting such a provocative and eye-catching title. No gimp masks or nipple clamps this time I'm afraid - perhaps that'll come in later blog if I manage to get to Amsterdam this year. The S&M I'm alluding to is simply the joy of sausage and mash. That great British menu favourite is adorning my dining table tonight. Aah yes, we Lancastrians know how to live a bit. I was obviously inspired by this week's The Apprentice task where the girls beat the boys at producing sausages sourced from Smithfield Market and selling them to the greatest profit. The girls went for gourmet sausages with a high meat content and flogged them for ludicrous prices in London's financial centre. The boys made an absolute pigs ear of it (well, they were pork but I don't think ears were included). They bought crapola meat and added a high quantity of rusk which when produced looked absolutely revolting. 
So today with time on my hands due to being off work for a week (yippee), I pootled off to a local farm shop and bought some hand reared porkers, organic potatoes and an organic onion. For one night only and for one special sitting at Fishfingerbutty Towers - Madames et monsieurs.. les sausicces, pomme de terre avec buerre et creme, l'oignon de jus. Or for those Northern types... bangers and mash with onion gravy. Chef FFB recommends that for mashed potato, use butter and warm milk (not cold) or better still, warm cream and add a touch of Marmite to the gravy. Domestic Goddess obviously.
Further Michelin star chef tips can be found at my website......

Sunday, 10 October 2010


Today was special for many reasons.. firstly the date is 10/10/10 and many predicted that the date would cause a binary code overload crashing billions of worldwide computer systems. A bit like the millennium bug eh? Fingers crossed the 10/10/10 overload screwed up the computer system at my bank and has credited my account with a much needed £100,000,000. Anyway, back to reality and waking up on a Sunday morning to sunshine and warmth is enough to make even Victor Meldrew jump for joy. Breakfast out on my patio, surveying my estate and sitting back with a Sunday paper and quaffing orange juice and muffins. October? You've got to be kidding! 
This afternoon took me pootling off to the sticks to see one of my oldest friends and her two young boys. We went to a country pub for a simply sensational Sunday lunch of roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. We were sat there chatting to the boys and they were telling me about their mum cooking a crispy duck last night and them all having a 'picnic' whilst watching the X Factor. The six year old is chattering away and suddenly out of nowhere asks me very earnestly whether ducks have a penis. The diners in close proximity all dropped their cutlery and you could just about make out a Colonel Mustard type on the next table ask his fellow diners 'Marjorie, what did that young man just say?'. As his mum remonstrated with his loudness and inappropriate questioning during Sunday lunch, I did the only thing that a responsible and mature auntie should do... I lifted the menu to obscure my face and laughed like a drain. The telling off then started the six year old to burst into tears and after a couple of minutes he was able to say he was very sorry.  I absolutely love little boys - they're so funny and honest. After lunch and my car hosted showboating burps from the boys to try and outdo each other and reached the climax when words were mixed with the burps such as 'RAAAAAAAAA-LPH'. Much hilarity and a million questions that only boys can ask.. 'Have you got the x-Box Fifa 11?', 'Can you blow a bubble this big with hubba-bubba?', we then headed off for nearby Garstang and a walk with the dog down by the river. We stopped on a bridge over the river and the boys asked me about rats, what was the chance of breaking your spine if you jumped off the bridge, and hung on my every word as I told them about the old ruin castle just off in the distance. Of course the story was embellished with tales of torture in the dungeons and witches at nearby Pendle Hill for which two little boys were wide-eyed and listening eagerly for every gory detail whilst my pal was smiling and shaking her head. Great afternoon in the sunshine with a great mate and two of my favourite little fellas who I love dearly and make me laugh more than they'll ever know...

Friday, 8 October 2010


The top 20 earners in football has been revealed this week. In the same week, the government has targeted public sector workers for a particular hammering on their pensions and salaries. So, for all the nurses, police officers, fire officers, council staff etc etc.... this new list will I'm sure gladden your tired and weary hearts right up until your extended retirement age.. Look away now if you're of a nervous disposition or feel bile rising to your mouth:- 

Football players:

David Beckham    LA Galaxy           £100m
Michael Owen      Man Utd             £40m 
Rio Ferdinand      Man Utd             £34m
Sol Campbell       Newcastle Utd    £31m 
Ryan Giggs         Man Utd             £27m
Wayne Rooney    Man Utd             £25m 
Steven Gerrard    Liverpool            £22m 
Frank Lampard    Chelsea              £22m 
John Terry          Chelsea              £19m
Patrick Viera       Man City             £18m
Didier Drogba      Chelsea             £18m
Paul Scholes       Man Utd             £16m 
Fernando Torres   Liverpool           £14m 
Pter Cech            Chelsea            £14m 
Nicolas Anelka     Chelsea            £14m 
Joe Cole              Liverpool          £14m 
Gary Neville         Man Utd           £14m 
Michael Essien     Chelsea            £13m
Emile Heskey       Aston Villa        £13m
Damian Duff         Fulham            £13m 

Now, I'm a big sports fan and I really love the beautiful game. Sadly, my love affair with football is dwindling by the minute when I think about young men earning these staggering amounts of money for essentially kicking a ball up and down a pitch for 90 minutes a week. And I will NEVER, EVER understand how Emile Heskey has accumulated £13 million. It makes you want to weep doesn't it? 

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Bejeepers.. I suppose it had to come sooner or later after months of enjoying good health. Alas, the common cold and hawking chest has reached Fishfingerbutty Towers and life for the past few days has been particularly crap. Previous blogs have hinted at my supreme greatness at being the world's worst ill person. I'm insufferable when a cold launches itself at my sinuses. There's been no stoical acceptance of my plight here this week. Far from it. At work, I've been on a witch hunt to find the donor of this virus and haunt them by whining constantly and blowing my nose through important phone calls. My nose has taken on the appearance of Peter Schmeichel keeping goal at the Stretford End during a sub-zero snowstorm. I'm coughing like a hardened smoker on an 80 a day Capstan Full Strength habit. I'm getting no sleep so alongside the Comic Relief nose, I've also acquired a legendary bitch-fiend from Hell irritability which I excel in at the whiff of a cold. So, all my friends have deserted me and have promised to get back in touch in 4-5 days when my nostrils have chapped over and I'm sleeping better. In the meantime I've vowed not to work so hard, secrete a hot bottle about my person, buy shares in Kleenex and try to be a nicer and more tolerant person. I shall also will myself better for my forthcoming week off and vow to stop being such a mard arse.  

Sunday, 3 October 2010


 Hey fellas.. Tired of looking in the mirror and sighing at the sight of impending middle age, an expanding waistline and the same old greying and baggy Y fronts staring back at you? Well, it seems Marks and Spencer might have the answer. M&S have always produced underwear of the highest quality and are quick to pounce on a niche in the market. They've produced a new range of control pants for men. Yes, MEN. The 'manties' are designed to lift and firm men's bottoms and this is the best bit.. allow less well-endowed men to beef up their bulge.  
The £15 Bodymax range go on sale this month to keep men in the loop with their female counterparts, the bestselling 'Bridget Jones' style control pants. The Bodymax pants reputedly raise men's bottoms by 20%. The 'frontal enhancement' pants have a 'unique integral shelf' that bumps up the lunchbox by a huge 38%. And then there's the Bodymax vest which tucks in moobs and beer bellies. 

I suppose it had to come. True equality means men have the same insecurities to body shape as women. They have equal access to moisturisers, skin care products, cosmetic surgery, body waxing and manicures as we ladies. I can't help but thinking though, that the reason I like men is that they're NOT women. I quite like the differences between the sexes. Nothing wrong with a bloke being healthy, well dressed and clean - but manties? Nooooooo. 
So to all the males who read this blog...resist being demasculinised (not sure if that's a word?), resist being an emotional and sensitive metrosexual-type, and be proud to be a man warts 'n all. And please, resist all temptation to buy Bodymax manties to lift your bottom or increase the size of your package. It's not big and it's not clever.....


Wow, what a televisual bonanza this weekend for all addicts of the small screen. Friday night saw the launch of this year's Strictly Come Dancing and boy did it explode onto the screen or what? Matt Baker who currently presents the BBC Countryfile programme looks like he's been dancing all his life and was phenomenal. A clear cut candidate for winning the series methinks.And then, Saturday night saw Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke's debut. Eyebrows were raised when Ms Widdecombe was announced as taking part in the series and many sniggered at the prospect. Watching her last night was a bit like watching a car crash unfold, however you have to admire her pluck and willingness to have a go. That's the beauty of SCD, it has a place for celebs who turn out some awesome performances, but it also has the Ann Widdecombe's who are so dismally crap, it becomes thoroughly entertaining and you can't help but will them on and congratulate their participation.  

I'm not a massive golf fan, but the Ryder Cup and possibly the British Open are the golfing  events which can normally grab my attention. The Ryder Cup of course, pits the passion of the European golfers against the skill and expertise of the Americans. This year, the tournament venue at Celtic Manor in Wales has seen a few hours lost through torrential rain which means a likely Monday extension to play. It's shaping up to an exciting finale which could go either way but it goes without saying C'MON EUROPE. 

Spurs managed a 2-1 win over Aston Villa with their new signed Rafael Van Der Vaart continuing his scoring streak. This player is making all the headlines at the moment and he looks set to be a White Hart Lance legend. Redknapp has spent what amounts to the GDP of a Switzerland in his pursuit of getting Spurs into the Champions League and has built up a great squad of players. Van Der Vaart though, is an inspired signing who looks like he will help Spurs to a top 4 finish this year. Exciting times ahead for the mighty Spurs... 
At this point, I'll try not to mention Man Utd's uninspiring 0-0 against Sunderland or that Blackpool still have to play Liverpool. Oops, I just did.

The X Factor trundles on to 'Boot Camp' stage where the dizzy excitement awaits the judges announcing their final three to warble their way through to fame and riches (to Simon Cowell). I'm on the fence about the X Factor. I find it hugely contrived, hugely exploitative and hugely dull. I watch it in passing and find myself exasperated by the wannabees desperate for fame but missing those vital ingredients of talent and work ethic. This year saw a media explosion covering the contestant Chloe Victoria who as well as singing off-key and looking like one of Amsterdam's 'Britney Schpears' blow up dolls, also has a nifty sideline as a Wakefield prostitute. Truly awful to watch and sad as well to see the British press pounce on that little nugget of information and exploit it for a couple of days at least. Well done Chloe, you got your 15 minutes of fame and no doubt an increase in your price list for handjobs. 
On the plus side for the X Factor, this year sees the entry of Rebecca Ferguson (in picture above). She's a 24 year old mother of two from Liverpool who is timid, has little self-confidence, but blimey, this girl has IT with plenty to spare. She reminds me of a cross between Billie Holiday and Audrey Hepburn. Superb and very original singing voice matched by an elegant and timeless style. This girl is one to watch and I'd be amazed if she's passed over for a recording contract in pursuit of a fast buck to be made for one of the less talented, but more 'confident' entries. Timid, shy and quiet she is, but the girl is a star. Watch this space... 

Sunday night sees the second episode of ITV's new costume drama, Downton Abbey. The first episode was a little confusing as it has to introduce all the characters and plotlines, but I stuck with it and it has all the hallmarks of shaping up to be good drama. The cast and setting makes the series very watchable and I'm looking forward to the plot unfolding. Can't help thinking though, that when it comes to costume drama, the BBC do it so much better. Perhaps it's because of the lack of adverts? Recent favourites were PRide and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and the sublime Cranford. British TV has it's critics. But, I defy anyone to not admire the BBC's (and ok, ITV's) production of great drama  series, and in particular costume dramas.  And this speaks the voice of experience of a seasoned traveller and viewer of tv in many countries. Makes you proud to be British...