Monday, 31 January 2011


The man who scored some of the most iconic soundtracks in movie history has died aged 77. John Barry whose scores were as famous as the films themselves passed away yesterday. For nearly 50 years, he produced music which will stand the test of time including the James Bond Theme, Goldfinger, From Russia With Love and You Only Live Twice. His association with the James Bond soundtracks will always overshadow his other work on the soundtracks for Born Free, Dances With Wolves and Out Of Africa. And not forgetting the rather brilliant theme tune for The Persuaders. Tributes have been pouring in today for John Barry from York, a musical genius whose talent and status as numero uno in the musical scores will never be equalled. From all the tributes I read today, I think Comedienne Sue Perkins sums his passing the best... 'RIP John Barry - a man who made the world sound sexy for while'. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011


If there could be any talent wished upon me, I'd love to be able to play a musical instrument and I'd love to be able to sing. And if I could sing like anyone, undoubtedly it would be to sing like Kiki Dee (closely followed by Dusty Springfield). Kiki Dee will always be remembered for her biggest hit in 1976 duetting with Elton John on 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart'. I always thought she looked a little like a children's tv presenter during that video when she wore those ill-advised dungarees. But there was always a bit more to Kiki Dee than being Elton's sidekick. Check out 'Amoureuse' for a sensationally sung ballad. The mighty Motown certainly knew talent when they saw it - signing Kiki Dee as the first white female to their label. 
Kiki, who originally hailed from Bradford as plainly named Pauline Matthews actually started out as Dusty Springfield's backing singer. Whilst Dusty's career hit the heady heights due in part to her voice being suited completely to the excellence of Burt Bacharach's songwriting, Kiki Dee never really hit the big time and she remained somewhat underrated. 
And check out the video of 'I've Got The Music In Me'. As someone commented on You Tube, half a century run of American Idol or X Factor wouldn't come close to finding this kind of talent. Kiki you were (and probably still are) the Manchester United of the Premiership. Rhianna? Lady Ga Ga? - Fleetwood Town of the Blue Square Conference League I'm afraid. 


It's day two in the Fishfingerbutty house, and FFB has a dodgy eye. I woke up yesterday with that sinking feeling of all was not well in the ocular department. Call it intuition, but a crusty, stuck together and puffy eye had my suspicions raised. A planned day out with friends with cameras in hand, and a good walk around Morecambe bay following by a pub lunch had to be postponed as the freezing conditions were not really conducive to a dodgy eye. Feeling a little miserable and slightly under the weather, I headed back to bed where I slept for another 5 hours before another kind mate came and picked me up and we schlepped down to the NHS walk-in centre. We are very lucky in Blackpool to have a state-of-the-art and very new walk-in-centre where you will be seen by nurses and doctors almost straightway 24 hours a day. It's taken a huge strain of the A&E department at our local hospital, not to mention having to wait for a GP appointment. Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon was very, very busy and there was about a 40 minute wait before I got to see a nurse. Forty minutes sat with the great unwashed and what seemed like a whole nursery full of Tiffany-Jade's and Regan's screaming was just about enough before thoughts of serious self-harm set in. I had a quick check over and a torch shone into my eye at various angles before Nurse Jackie told me I had a chalazion. A what?? Apparently it's a cyst on the inner eyelid which will go with the help of very hot compresses (to aid their bursting - blurrrhgh) and some ointment. Jackie also recommended I sleep in an upright position to avoid my eye swelling up and sticking again. Mmmm.. not sure about that one. Anyway, after a good night's sleep (in prone position), I have woken up with an eye not too dissimilar to a cross between Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez and Gabrielle singing 'Dreams' but without the eyepatch. It's grim, but the hot compress is at ready....


Charlie Adam linked to a move to Manchester United? It seems that Sir Alex Ferguson was very impressed with Blackpool's midfielder during last Wednesday's match against United at Bloomfield Road. Blackpool totally outplayed United in the first half and much of that has to credited to Charlie Adam. Ferguson has joined the chase to sign 25 year old Adam and to pip Liverpool's offer of £4m before the January transfer window closes tomorrow. Such is Ferguson's admiration, he is looking to Adam to fill the exceptional boots of Paul Scholes. A pretty good compliment indeed. Blackpool are still holding out for a eight figure transfer fee and it looks like they'll get it. The United boss declared after Wednesday's five-goal goal thriller 'We couldn't handle Charlie Adam. His corners alone are worth £10m'. Watch this space...

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


With half an eye on tonight's National Television Awards and finding it quite entertaining, the night suddenly came to an abrupt end when Bruce Forsyth gained a special recognition award. The fawning and sycophantic tributes from the showbiz luvvies prior to the old hoofer getting up to receive his award was simply vomit-inducing. Strictly Come Dancing (in my top 3 favourite tv programmes) has to be sky+'d now so that I can fast forward through Bruce's dancing (sorry, make that shuffling his feet whilst holding up his trouser legs) and his ad-libs which are generally stuttered through and are, to be honest, puerile. For goodness sake Brucie, give in to the vanity and get some glasses so that you can actually read the autocue. Yes, I know he's a gentleman in his 80's and he has had a long, long career in the business that is show, but how much longer do we have to put up with 'nice to see you, to see you...nice'? 
Brucie.. here's an impassioned plea from a tv viewer who is losing patience with the almost daily calls for your receipt of a knighthood and the occasional and rather delusional plea calling for sainthood.. Please retire gracefully and soon. Go play golf and live a happy and peaceful life in Wentworth with your lovely and patient wife. Hang up the ginger toupee and put the catchphrases in cold storage and retire with some dignity. But most of all, a frantic plea to Tess Daly et al to stop asking for Mr Showbiz to become Sir Showbiz. That would just be too much to bear....



Sad day today with the funeral of a lady who meant a lot to my family. She was my brother's mother-in-law and grannie to my lovely (and very tall) nephew. This lady had a sad end to her life, but boy oh boy she packed a fair bit in to her years.  She was a classically trained ballet dancer and then became part of the famous Tiller Girls dance dance troupe. I'd question her relentlessly about her dancing at the London Palladium and in front of King George VI on the Royal Variety Performance but she would always play it down and never show off about it. She performed on stage with some of the biggest names in showbiz and I'd yearn for celebrity gossip on Shirley Bassey (who she knew) but would she spill? Would she buxton. She also did lots of charity work and received congratulatory letters from Lady Clementine Churchill, but rather than talk about this during our many, many christmas day meals together, would instead be happy to ask after everyone else and what they were up to. Her and I would sit next to each other and chat over the turkey dinner and share a glass of wine, a few filthy jokes and some salty language which she absolutely loved. One christmas lunch she passed me some roast potatoes and asked very politely how many I'd like and with a straight face I replied 'erm...14 please'. This absolutely cracked her up and became a standing joke between us for many meals to come. Our family are quite renowned for their parties with much dancing and exuberance which suited B's flamboyant character so well. After much champagne and gin & tonic flowing, the music would always end up with Frankie singing 'New York, New York' where B would showcase her Tiller Girl talents that put all the younger women to shame. Her finale would be a screaming high kick followed by the splits with arms extended and to much applause. When she did it with a fag in one hand and a still full glass of gin and tonic in the other, the cheering crowd went doubly wild. Blimey that lady had good legs matched with the suppleness of a Ukranian gymnast. 
My sister-in-law will miss her mum terribly and so will the rest of us. There will be a big empty space next to me at next year's christmas day meal. But I will always listen to New York, New York with a big smile on my face and remember B with huge fondness...


Last night's Blackpool v Manchester United match was just too tantilising to miss  so my football-mad buddy Vic and I arranged to meet up after work for a meal and some pub footy. We met up in posh Lytham St Annes and had a great meal before heading over to the Ship and Royal which by 7pm was full to the rafters of tangerine-shirted footy fans. I'd forgotten how great pub football really is. Years ago it was small screen in the vaults and you were lucky if you hear any of the  commentary. Nowadays, selected pubs have several projector style screens with surround sound and if you're really lucky, Sky very kindly broadcast some of the matches in 3D. It's like being in a Buddy Holly convention - only everyone's drunk. 
Don't ask me how, but Vic and I managed to get right to the front, and leaning on the bar like a couple of ladettes and drinks in hand, we settled ourselves in for ringside viewing. The match started and suddenly Blackpool scored, and then they scored again. The pub erupted, drinks flew all over the place and people began hugging. Now bear with me here because this might seem a bit strange. I absolutely love Blackpool FC and how well they've done this season. Their presence in the premier league has been outstanding and fully deserved. Vic and I travelled to Wembley and saw them win the play-offs and no-one cheered harder than us two that hot and barmy May afternoon. But last night, when my home club scored against Manchester United and made them look very ordinary, it hurt like mad. My head tells me my loyalty is to my beloved Blackpool, but my heart belongs to Old Trafford. I received a million texts from mates reminding me just how crap United were and how the mighty Blackpool were killing them at Bloomfield Road and I had to agree. Then suddenly the second half started and United scored, scored again, then stole it at the end with a Berbatov winner. The pub went crazy and I went quiet. Sad for Blackpool that they made it such a great match and nearly won it, but secretly delighted United got through and are five points clear at the top of the Prem.  
And as for pub football... Love it and can't wait for the next Euro championship and England's participation and ultimate downfall in the penalty shoot-outs. Now that's enough to drive you to alcohol.. 

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


When Manchester United meet Blackpool at Bloomfield Road tonight, it will be the first league meeting in 40 years. That match saw the last time Blackpool were in the top flight of English football and the last match played by Mr Blackpool - Jimmy Armfield. Two legends of their clubs, Sir Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Armfield led out their teams at that day's Lancashire derby. Charlton and Armfield were and still are great friends. They played football together in the Army during their National Service and were in the same England team which went on to win the World Cup in 1966. In those days, players from the top division were paid the same wages and Charlton has been on record as saying there was 'a great camaraderie in the game'. Not sure that Blackpool's Charlie Adam (on a reputed 10k per week) and Wayne Rooney (on 250,000k) will be able to say the same in 40 years time.    
Bloomfield Road had 30,000 fans that day cheering on Blackpool to a 1-1 draw. With their new all-seater stadium, they'll be substantially less than 30,000 there tonight but the noise and chants will make it seem like 90,000. I'm not sure if Blackpool will manage a 1-1 draw tonight but if they do, it will be a fitting tribute to the two older men and legends of the game who will watching on from the stands.  

Monday, 24 January 2011


To celebrate my friends birthdays and for a break from the foodfest, Saturday night's activities saw my trusty mates and I light up a Chinese lantern and watch it drift off into a still, moonlight night. I have to say though that my heart was in my mouth trying to recall if I'd set up a direct debit for buildings contents insurance as we watched with baited breath as the lantern drift towards my roof before floating off skybound. An article in today's Guardian has farmers and the Air Authority calling for a ban on Chinese lanterns. It seems that the lanterns which are paper and wire hot air balloons fuelled by a naked flame dating back to 3rd century China are now a hazard due to their increasing popularity. 
Farmers say that cows suffer stomach damage from eating the wire from falling lanterns and that crops are at risk from fire risk. In a rain-soaked country not ordinarily prone to bush fires, it seems a blaze from a lantern destroyed a 2.5 hectare field of barley. The Coastguard Agency report lifeboats are sent out needlessly due to responding to false alarms for distress flares caused actually by lanterns. And just for good measure, the article recalls a three year old Wrexham boy whose face was badly burned at last year's bonfire night when a lantern broke and spilled hot oil. The final quote goes to Helen Bower, president of The Women's Food and Farming Union.. 'We hope people see sense and they are banned. We don't want to be spoilsports, but this is not a British tradition'. 
Perhaps not. For it seems the only British tradition these days is a knee-jerk safety conscious Health and Safety culture where bans are called on anything which poses a risk to UK citizens. Not to mention the UK's cattle population...

Sunday, 23 January 2011


Right folks.. I previously blogged about the worst sitcoms ever with Terry and June topping my list of all-time TV Hell. Here as promised is my take on the very best sitcoms from the UK and US. Further additions to the list will be gratefully received and reviewed by the sitcom judging panel (ie. me).... 

Phoenix Nights 
Gavin and Stacey  
The Vicar of Dibley 
The Royle Family 
Nighty Night 
The Office 
Absolutely Fabulous 
I'm Alan Partridge
Father Ted  
Only Fools and Horses
Men Behaving Badly 
One Foot in the Grave 
Fawlty Towers 

30 Rock
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Golden Girls 


Yesterday's traipse round Tesco I had my head down muttering about being there and alternating my route at frequent intervals to avoid screaming children. Whilst nonchalantly looking at the food label for something or other, I was tapped on the shoulder and turned round to see a sight which caused a deep and lasting chill to my heart. There standing in front of me and making all the 'ooh how lovely to see you's' was my ex-boss. The woman who for the last two years of my previous career in the IT industry systematically ensured my working life was to be endured rather than enjoyed. I hadn't seen this lady for five years after myself and another female colleague walked out of work arm in arm vowing never to return. We had both taken voluntary redundancy - a choice of some regret having both worked in the same environment for over twenty years and both facing an uncertain future ahead of us. The choice however was made a little easier knowing that we would never have to put up with working for Cruella DeVille ever again.  
Some years earlier, my colleague and I worked for a company which were outsourced to a global giant. Although both used to working in project management and knew our way around huge revenue and business plans, we were given new jobs in the new regime and it was pretty plain from day one that the posts did not carry the same gravitas as they once did. Cruella inexplicably saw to it that our areas of responsibility were slowly chipped away and our inclusion and participation in training and meetings became more and more infrequent. Eventually, my confidence dwindled away as quickly as my job role and during one Friday afternoon showdown, she branded me 'unmanagable and histrionic'. Funny that because I recalled branding her 'a crap manager and an arsehole'. Complaints to those higher was futile as even they were scared of her and backed her up without question. Her patience finally ran out with me and I was 'requested' to move to another site and lead an admin team.  
Once the redundancy cheque was safely in the bank account, I reflected on the events of the final years of my career and began rehearsing in my mind what I would say to Cruella if I ever saw her again. Although I was happy to be out of that environment and it enabled me to change career direction, I still felt I needed 'closure' by venting some anger towards the person who I thought had pushed me into making that decision. 
Bumping into Cruella in Tesco's, I finally saw her in a different light. Out of the business suit and in her 'normal clothes', and in the company of her little grandson, she looked small and very ordinary. She was pleasant and seemed happy to disclose that she had kept tracks on my new career in nursing and congratulated me on finding something worthwhile. Surprises again when she said she had also taken redundancy a couple of years ago because of work pressure and that it had turned her 'into a not very nice person'. She is now working for NHS  pensions and I smiled at the prospect of this woman's having some input into my retirement fund. Did I vent and let rip with both barrels? No I didn't. Although her behaviour and treatment towards her female staff was inexcusable and I daresay with a touch of some infringement to working practice, yesterday's chance meeting left me feeling that my head was held a little higher than perhaps hers was. It's in the past and it's gone, life moves on. She passed on her best wishes and hoped that we would keep in touch in the future. I somehow doubt it....   

Saturday, 22 January 2011


I've got some friends coming round later for an evening of high jinks. We're celebrating some recent birthdays and rather than hitting the local eateries, they requested I cook a 'special birthday meal'. No pressure there then. The Domestic Goddess will be on full throttle shortly as soon as motivation sets in to hit Tesco on a Saturday morning with a winning smile and not on ounce of impatience. 
Our get togethers tend to have the mandatory elements of:- 
1. Bubbly (lots of)
2. Food (lots of) 
3. Special basil (don't ask) 
4. Card games (lots of - pre drinks) 
5. Guitar jamming (lots of - post drinks)
6. Singalongs and getting the lyrics wrong (lots of - post, post drinks) 
7. Laughs (lots of) 

Just exactly what's needed after the week from Hell at work. 'Looking after my soul' is just what a very lovely and very wise doctor ordered me to do the other week and maybe tonight is the step in right direction for doing just that...


I've just caught the end of 'Terry and June' on some obscure Sky channel whilst doing my usual channel hopping during advert breaks. The conclusion now as it was when I was very young and watching it for when it was first broadcast, remains the same. The word 'horseshit' doesn't seem to do Terry and June justice. Appallingly contrived and utter bollocks seems perhaps more appropriate. It was part of that 1970's English sitcom genre which always left me cold. It just wasn't funny and watching it now many years after it was first broadcast, it still doesn't make me laugh. Embarrassed yes, amused - no. The world of suburban Home Counties sitcom living seemed a million miles away from a young kid brought up in Lancashire. I couldn't get my head around 'housewives' like June Whitfield being fully made-up all day and twittering on about souffles and coffee mornings. Exposure to bumbling golf-playing, Rotary Club husbands wearing beige Farah Pants / cardigans and calling his wife 'darling' just didn't register in my upbringing. I had never seen anyone come home from work and reach for a decanter before mixing a for gin and tonic before settling on the patio. Not only that, the lines always seemed to be delivered in that 50's style 'oops, more tea vicar?' farce-like way which you could see coming like a runaway no.15 bus slamming on the brakes on a patch of black ice. Other sitcoms in this genre and of this time which also left me cold (but were surprisingly popular and gained huge ratings) were:- 

The Good Life 
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin 
George and Mildred
Robin's Nest 
To The Manor Born 
Bless This House 
Bless Me Father 
Never The Twain 


Wednesday, 19 January 2011


The top 10 things I hate about football (in descending order)....

10. Spitting 
9.   Football pundits especially Hansen, Lawro, and Merson. 
8.   Obscene wages 
7.   Snoods and gloves 
6.   Football agents 
5.   Foreign takeovers 
4.   John Terry 
3.   WAGS 
2.   0-0 results
1.   DIVES AND FEIGNED INJURIES - the attached clip richly illustrates this. 

Watch it and weep..... 

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


'I got the job! They're giving me £45,000 a year, a company car and something called a vasectomy.'

Under new proposals outlined by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, fathers may be entitled to claim up 10 months paternity leave. Mr Touchy Feely Lib Dem Clegg outlines the need for fathers to share responsibility of childcare with their partners and is keen to introduce laws to provide new parents to take their joint parental leave in chunks a few weeks at a time. 
The British Chamber of Commence have stated it's a 'sledgehammer' to business whilst employment lawyers said the proposals could have a 'chilling' effect on recruitment particularly towards young people. 
The coalition government can't take all the credit for this one - the previous Labour party proposed this back in 2006 when David Cameron who was then the leader of the opposition, spoke out against similar proposals. So that's another U-turn for Mr Cameron? Quelle surprise...
NHS reform, high taxes, job losses, cutbacks, benefit and educational reform (ie cutbacks), HUGE hikes in petrol prices and falling house prices are just some of the things we've had live with since these two forged a coalition government, albeit some of which was inherited from the the previous incumbent. 
I get a little uneasy with proposals to reform and extend paternity / parental leave. Small businesses who struggle as it is under the current economic climate are going to hurt even more when this becomes statute under employment law. I daresay there will be repercussions on younger people starting out their careers, particularly graduates who inherit huge debts following their studies as it is. And from a personal viewpoint, it'll be a particularly bitter pill to swallow for the employees who don't have children either by design or default. If you work in a large company or in areas of the public sector, the 'childless ones' currently work on whilst their colleagues with children are entitled to term-time leave (ie. leave whilst children on school holidays). You will get used to your colleague's with children taking emergency leave in cases of problems with childcare provision or little Tabitha getting tonsillitis. And now, with the enforced requirement for employees to work longer and therefore past the current retirement age due to shortfalls in state  pensions, you will also have your male and female colleagues taking up to 10 months parental leave. So if a couple have say, 4 children....blimey, that's nearly 4 years off! 
So here's some radical proposals for Cleggy and Cammo:-  

1. Give tax breaks for the 'childless ones'. After all, they have no entitlement to maternity/paternity pay, Child Benefit or Family Tax Credits. They will not be adding pupils to the education system or raising obese children to knacker up further the NHS waiting lists for the next 80 years. They will also be saving the carbon footprint and not adding more used nappies to the eco-system. 
2. Allow the 'childless ones' to retire up to 2 years earlier than their counterparts with children to compensate for their not taking any parental leave. 
3. Stop pillocking about with notions of 10 months paternity leave.  

Yeah, I know... Dream on. Up the revolution! 

Sunday, 16 January 2011


In these nanny state and Health and Safety times, just in case you need further proof that we are doomed because of terminal stupidity, here's some actual instructions on the labels of consumer goods....

On a packet of Sainsbury's peanuts... 'Warning: Contains nuts'
On a hairdryer... 'Do not use while sleeping' 
On bar of Dial soap... 'Directions: Use like regular soap'
On a Marks and Spencer bread pudding... 'Product will be hot after heating'
On Tesco's tiramisu (printed on bottom of box)..'Do not turn upside down' 
On packaging for a Rowenta iron..'Warning: Do not iron clothes on body'
On Boots children's medicine..'Warning: Do not drive or operate machinery after taking this medication'
On Nytol sleep aid.. 'Warning: May cause drowsiness'
On a set of christmas lights... 'For indoor or outdoor use only'
On a Japanese food processor.. 'Not to be used for the other use' 
On a child's Superman costume... 'Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly'
On a Swedish chainsaw... 'Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands' 
On a bottle of Palmolive dishwashing liquid... 'Do not use on food' 

And there's more....

Caution on a Korean kitchen knife... 'Warning: Keep out of children'
Recommendation on Sunmaid raisins... 'Why not try tossing over your favourite cereal?'
On a TV remote control... 'Not dishwasher safe' 
In a microwave oven manual... 'Do not use for drying pets' 
On an electric cattle prod....'For use on animals only' 



It's that time of year again when quite a few of my mates hit the slopes on their annual skiing holidays. I listen to their excited talk of black runs, bunny slopes and powdery snow and although I smile gracefully, I'm really thinking 'you mad bastard'. I need to say at this point, that thought is not driven by envy, but by bitter experience. 
In a moment of madness and having just turned 21, my best friend and I decided to book a skiing holiday to Andorra. The exuberance of youth and complete lack of insight and funds affords you of running the risk of doing no research whatsoever of the place we were heading to. Andorra is this little principality nestled in the French Pyrenees between Spain and France. In those days, Andorra was very much in the infancy of ski tourism...Val d'isere it wasn't. Our first morning had us both looking resplendent in our salopettes,  80's shoulder padded ski jackets and hair styled on Kim Wilde and Linda Evans from Dynasty. We hired our boots and headed for the chair lifts and with fags in mouths, chatted about the scenery and plans for our first night out. And then the first disaster struck. Chair lifts surely stop at the top for beginners to be helped off don't they? The answer is unequivocally NO. When the realisation kicked in that we were supposed to gracefully 'ski-off', we panicked and sort of fell off from five feet up with our salopettes still attached to the safety bar and ski poles wrapped round our necks. The humiliation of being dragged off by two burly Frenchmen to calm down, avert concussion by imminent arrival of next chair lift and then to apply first aid was not the greatest start to our skiing experience. 
And so to the skiing lessons on the baby slopes and ritual humiliation number 2. However hard we tried, we just couldn't stay on our feet and fell over onto ice with frequent regularity whilst small children just out of nappies were doing back somersaults and 'bending zee knees' with consummate ease. After an hour, we just about managed a decent 'v' shape to stop after careering off screaming  so we thought 'bugger it, let's head off to the black slopes'. Call it madness or the impetuousness of youth but we thought we'd be great. It was enough to give you permanent incontinence let me tell you. After approximately 4 minutes of sheer fright and sustained injury, I decided to unclip my skis and walk down. My mate said she'd try and ski down. I feared I'd never see her again and rehearsed the comforting words in my head of the speech I'd give to her mum on my return (if I ever made it home back to Blighty). Hours later, I reached a half-way point ski lodge / restaurant and I had that moment that Sir John Mills had in 'Ice Cold In Alex' only this time with a cup of cocoa to warm by aching limbs. I waited and waited and then total relief as my mate entered with a pale face, cuts to her face and twigs and fir tree bracken attached to her crumpled hairdo. A couple of fags and double brandies later, and she was able to tell me that she's had the most frightening experience of her life and just bounced down the mountain taking out other skiers, a couple of mountain fir saplings and her hip joint. She was black and blue and her salopettes were ripped and bloodied. She's lost her ski goggles when she hit the 14th tree. The sheer terror on her face was enough to convince me that I'd tried skiing and quite frankly I was now bored with it and it just wasn't for me. 
And so to the apres ski. Our first night took us to an organised fondue night in the local town where we met a couple of blokes who then kind of latched on to us for the whole week. To be fair to my friend (who I know reads this blog and therefore I won't embarrass), she embraced the skiing more than I did and was sensible enough to go to bed early in order to meet the early morning starts for the chair lifts. Not so in my case I'm afraid. I embraced hitting the local bar and dancing the night away at the one and only disco with my new holiday romance. What we didn't reckon on was that Andorra being half French and half Catalan and very much in the old ways of an established catholic culture, was that everything apart from the the bar/disco we frequented each night shut down at 9pm as did unfortunately did our hotel. Two giggling and snogged-up party animals arrived back to the hotel at some ungodly hour (11pm) and worse the wear for drink, we were stood there faced with a locked front door and the hotel in darkness. After hammering on the door, the owner dressed in pyjamas and dressing gown eventually opened up and we were given a right old Catalan telling off with the holiday romance being told to 'slingio your hookio'. My friend was waiting up and ready for all the goss and we both sniggered at my dressing down by the hotel owner and bringing disrepute to his establishment. Breakfast was served with a black look and indifference and we noticed that the owner shoo-ed his teenage daughter who was waitressing away from our table and over instead to the tables taken by married couples. Each day, we'd all meet up on the mountain lodge for lunch despite my friend being not as enamoured with her HR. Me and my HR dismissing the wonders of skiing and with total avoidance of breaking any limbs, we headed off to Andorra's capital each afternoon for a spa and jacuzzi session. And then each night we'd sample the delights of cheese fondues followed by dancing to 'Hungry Heart' by Bruce Springsteen and laugh at the limitations of the DJ's record collection.  
No, you can stick skiing as far as I'm concerned. Give me a warm climate with a Mediterranean vista, a pool and a good book to read with not a pair of salopettes in sight....  

Saturday, 15 January 2011


It's raining and dark outside. Pay day is a long way off. Summer is even further off in the distance. I have a huge pile of ironing to do and a house to clean before my folks come round later for a meal. I have to raise my motivation to launch myself into a howling gale and horizontal rain to go and collect a parcel  at the depot because the trusty postman delivers after 2pm and couldn't just leave it with my next neighbour (who doesn't work). 
For these reasons and a multitude of others, I trawled You Tube and found a sublime blast from the past - Erasure and 'A Little Respect'. Surely one of the greatest pop songs ever and brings back some good memories from 1988. Also reminds me of a night spent at the Ritz in Manchester where JC and I (joined by a chorus of hundreds others) sang our hearts out to this during KT Tunstall's cover version. 
Aah, the memories and a welcome distraction from my steam iron... for now anyway....

Monday, 10 January 2011


All of the following are allegedly genuine responses given by mothers to the Child Support Agency in the section asking for fathers' details....

'Regarding the identity of the father of my twins, child A was fathered by [name given]. I am unsure as to the identity of the father of child B, but I believe that he was conceived on the same night'. 

'I am unsure as to the identity of the father of my child as I was being sick out of the window when taken unexpectedly from behind. I can provide you with a list of the names of men that I think were at party if that helps?' 

'I do not know the name of the father of my little girl. She was conceived at a party at [address given] where I had unprotected sex with a man I met that night. I do remember that the sex was so good that I fainted. If you do manage to track down the father can you send me his phone number? Thanks.'

'I don't know the identity of the father of my daughter. He drives a BMW that now has a hole made by my stiletto in one of the door panels. Perhaps you can contact BMW garages in this area and see if he's had it replaced?' 

'I cannot tell you the name of the child's dad as he informs me that to do so would blow his cover and that would have cataclysmic implications for the British economy. I am torn between doing right by you and right by the country. Please advise.'

'[name given] is the father of child A. If you do catch up with him can you ask him what he did with my AC/DC cd's?'

'From the dates it seems that my daughter was conceived at EuroDisney. Maybe it really is the Magic Kingdom.'

'I am unsure as to the identity of the father of my baby. After all, when you eat a can of beans you can't be sure which one made you fart.'


The Beckhams have just announced the couple are expecting a fourth child this summer. There's already speculation of the child's sex and indeed the Beckham's have previously spoken about their desire to have a little girl. I'm sure the Beckham's would be thrilled to have another little boy, but a daughter would help balance the books so to speak.  
Speaking from personal experience and being the only girl with three older brothers, baby Beckham will be in for quite a childhood. Forget 'mama' or 'dada', for her first word will be 'Manchester United'. She will get used to trikes, hot wheel cars, football boots, Meccano, Action Man and underpants being heavily used words of choice and usual sights around the home. Her brothers will introduce her to spiders and frogs very quickly and she learn to laugh it off (through repressed tears) as one of them will be deposited down her pink pyjamas when she least expects it. She will learn to fight dirty very quickly because she'll be teased mercilessly. She will be set up by her brothers at mealtime to say things like 'mum, what's sexual intercourse?' whilst they sit sniggering innocently. She will be picked for all the worst sporting positions in sibling football and cricket matches - getting used to being the goalie or fielder who has to retrieve balls batted into nettles, ponds, through neighbours windows or roughly 3 miles away. She will have her dolls hair cut short or have their faces painted with the word 'die bitch'. She will fall hopelessly in love with her older brother's friends. She will wait hours to get in the bathroom and when she eventually does, the toilet seat will be up, there'll be no toilet paper and she'll fight through a fog of steam more akin to a Turkish bath. 
For all that, she'll have a great grounding in life. For all the teasing, she'll also have the unconditional protection of three big brothers and woe betide any lad who treats her badly. She'll be resilient and develop social skills which will stand her in good stead in the company of men. She will never struggle in male company when talking about sport or cars. She will laugh a lot when she gets together with her brothers and most of all, she will be very blessed. 


Sunday, 9 January 2011


Dancing on Ice returns on our screens tonight on tv. Always the poor relation to Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor, DOI still provides a weirdly compelling and slightly tacky televisual bonanza of z list celebs strutting their stuff on the ice rink. It has all the naff ingredients that has managed to draw in millions of viewers each series... spandex, sequins, budding romances, dramatic falls and injuries, vote offs and a panto-esque villian in the shape of resident bitchy and overly queenie Jason Gardiner. Jason of course, milks the part of villain for all its worth. Coming from a background of musical choreography (paradoxically not ice dancing), he doesn't let that stand in the way of making stinging comments on our poor little ice dancer triers. He hit the dizzy heights with his comments on olympic swimmer Sharron Davies' efforts when she did a spectacularly dull performance bedecked in a brown sequinned dancing outfit. Describing her performance as 'like faecal matter that won't flush away' was at best unkind and despite receiving floods of complaints, it got him and DOI some great publicity. 
This year's 16 contestants:- 
Angela Rippon - BBC newsreader from the 1930's
Chloe Madeley - lisp inflicted daughter of equally nauseous Richard & Judy 
Comedy Dave Vitty - who? 
Craig McLachlan - had a mullet when appearing in Neighbours in the 80's
Denise Welch - middle-aged Loose Woman
Dominic Cork - ex-cricketer
Elen Rives - ex-WAG and mother of Frank Lampard's kids. Oh Lordy
Jeff Brazier - ex of Jade Goody (of Big Brother and early death fame)
Jennifer Metcalfe - no sorry, I've no idea
Johnson Beharry - ex Army and awarded Victoria Cross in Gulf War
Kerry Katona - faecal matter that won't flush away
Laura Hamilton - nope, no idea
Nadia Sawalha - her sister played Saffron in Ab Fab years ago. 
Sam Attwater - not a clue, sorry 
Steven Arnold - killed off in Corrie over christmas, now free for DOI and panto
Vanilla Ice - how very clever to get a contestant's name to fit the show's format.

Which brings me nicely to the greatest Dancing On Ice moment? Has to be Todd Carty doesn't it?     

Saturday, 8 January 2011


Great story this week which caught my eye was of the grandmother of former X Factor contestant Katie Waissel appearing on ITV's 'This Morning' programme. Katie was the much maligned and controversial singer who stayed in the competition despite the public and media calling for her head. Katie's singing was very average, but the publicity whipped up surrounding her past love life and family shenanigans raged on (and still does long after the X Factor crowned the winner). During Katie's efforts for superstardom, stories emerged of her 81 year old grandmother Sheila Vogel-Coupe charging £250 per hour for sex run through a website called 'Vintage Vamps'. 

Sheila's been on tv this week blaming her granddaughter's appearance on the X Factor for ruining her business and reputation. She stated she started the business after becoming lonely after her two husbands died of illness and her wanting some male company. When asked why she didn't just join a bowling club or some night school classes for some social company, Sheila explained 'but that's not me, I'm a little bit more outgoing'. Sheila's family have disowned her and she is unrepentant in her statement that it is 'my private life and they've been very, very judgmental' She did however, regret performing in the porn film 'The Great British Granny Bang', stating 'we all make mistakes'. 

Indeed, we do all make mistakes Sheila. I think the black cheetah print and stockings underwear combo photo was one of them. I'm all for entrepreneurial enterprise and try hard not to be too judgmental about people's private lives. But you can't help thinking that this lady has courted her exposure for all its worth and its difficult to see the logic behind blaming her granddaughter for ruining her reputation. My flabber was also gasted that people are willing to pay her £250 per hour for sex. Madam, for that alone I salute you but I hope you feel its worth the cost to the relationship with your family. It's a mad, mad world folks...

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Something strange happened tonight at Fishfingerbutty Towers. With time on my hands and with a whimsical devil-may-care attitude, I got the urge to cook a vegetarian meal. I'm no Linda McCartney believe me. There is nothing I like more than roast beef, a good fillet steak, a bacon and HP sauce sandwich or at a push, a sausage sandwich (with HP). Tonight however, I went all Surrey/Stepford housewife and chucked together roasted vegetables consisting of butternut squash, red and yellow peppers, red onions, cloves of garlic, courgettes and cherry tomatoes lightly sprinkled with chili olive oil, black pepper and rock salt. Some cous-cous mixed with a hint of garlic and fluffed with touch of butter and finished off with cubed Greek feta cheese completed the ensemble. I had rather low expectations as I don't normally go for vegetarian food, but it was actually really rather good. I feel quite smug that I have eaten a healthy evening meal and will go off now and celebrate with a slim slice of Swiss roll and a sniff at the pork pies in my fridge...   


O-Ohh.. here we go again. It was my first day at university today and the start of topping up my degree and working towards a BSc (Hons) Professional Practice. I'm back at UCLAN which was the same university where I and several  others sniggered and played sudoku throughout our nursing lectures. There's a fully operational 'ward' within the Health buildings which whilst we were earnestly being trained to inject patients, to perform CPR and all manner of highly important and intricate nursing procedures, our group felt compelled to put the 'patient' dummies into all manner of horribly sexual positions and try on their wigs. We got told off mercilessly of course, but blimey, it was great fun. The university provided 3 years of academic study and there were relentless exams and essays. We were then let off the leash to work in real-life wards which wasn't quite as funny. Desperately hard work mixed with an onslaught of your senses being besieged by a million emotions, horrendous sights and times of joy and deep sadness. You are asked to sit with a dying patient who has hours to live and hold their hand whilst they take their last breath. You complete last offices on the dead with a high degree of respect and dignity. You empty more bed pans than you ever dare imagine and smile with forced forgiveness when someone vomits down your white uniform for the third time before 10am. On psychiatric wards you learn that madness is normal and you become no longer shocked by someone telling you they get radioactive  signals through their penis. Although you become accustomed to the odd chair launched towards the back of your head at frequent intervals, you never forget the torment etched on the faces and endured by those suffering from mental illness. You sit and try to give hope to people who see a ligature around their neck or walking into the sea as their only option of ending the futility of their lives. You listen to damaged adults self-medicating on drugs and alcohol who share their experiences of abused and neglected childhoods and you wonder if you'll ever gain the experience of saying the right thing. And just when it can't get any worse...your feet hurt! Boy, do they ache after the miles of walking and standing you do on shift. I'd imagine nearly every student nurse considers packing it all in throughout their training. Indeed, plenty do give it up. Anywhere between 30% and 50% of student nurse intakes don't complete the 3 year course. For those that do, the feeling of deep satisfaction, achievement and unbelievable camaraderie amongst your peers is worth all the pain of training.  

Once qualified, it's no plain sailing as you work just as hard only with 100% more responsibility and accountability. Don't do it for the money, because you'll never be wealthy. You do it because you love it and are passionate about nursing and passionate about being a nurse. And it doesn't stop there once qualified. It's a lifetime of extra qualifications, new training and new learning. Nursing moves forward with new approaches in medicine and nurses have to continue with their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. So, it was with a spring in my step I took my place back in the lecture room today at the University of Central Lancashire. Only this time, now qualified, there's a significant change in the approach of the lecturers. There's no sniggering, no tellings off and no stringent regimes of punctuality and 100% attendance seen in my previous student nurse days. However there was 30-or-so nurses looking very worried at the prospect of two 2000 word essays needing very swift completion....  

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


On this day in history...
In 1986, Phil Lynott the lead singer and guitarist of Thin Lizzy died in hospital of heart failure and pneumonia following a drink and drugs binge. 

In 1967, Donald Campbell was killed on Lake Coniston, Cumbria whilst trying to break his own water speed record in his jet-powered boat, the Bluebird. 

But on a brighter note... it's my old pal's RJ's birthday. One of my co-dancers  of the infamous YMCA Village People dance routine is one year older today. RJ is a great nurse and a thoroughly great woman. Slightly mad, slightly zany when white wine is consumed, slightly indiscreet with her bottom burps in my car, but a brilliantly generous and lovely pal. RJ, I give you the sadly missed Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy and can only picture you headbanging away on your exercise machine whilst you read this! Happy birthday xx


Last year I visited the Imperial War Museum North on Salford Quays, Manchester. If you've never been, it's architecturally splendid in every way and the exhibits are mighty fine too. During my visit, I was lucky enough to see the 'Shaped By War' photography exhibition by Don McCullin. His images were spectacularly evocative. With a book token for christmas burning a hole in my handbag, I set off for my local Waterstones (number two in list of favourite shops). After a good few hours of browsing I headed for the Art and Photography section and stumbled upon Don McCullin's 'In England'. It was a little pricey but it's well worth the spend to have this gracing your bookshelf. McCullin's images span 50 years of life in England and at times you stare at the bleakness, the social decay and a society confined to history. Here's a few of Don McCullin's photographs to see if you agree with this bloke's genius behind the lens....

'The Guv'nors' Finsbury Park, London 1958. A local North London street gang posing menacingly for the camera. 

'Mother and Son' Bradford 1978. 

East End, London 1973. McCullin looked for inspiration in the streets of Whitechapel and found a sub-culture of alcoholics and schizophrenics who at times were dangerous and violent. 

'Class' Mayfair, London 1965. A very different photo and a very different society from the previous photo. 

Bradford 1973. 


Happy new year folks. I'm still recovering from eating too much (especially of the chocolate variety), trying to get to see most of my friends and family and trying desperately to catch up on some well needed relaxation and sleep. 
And what a start to the year it's been already....
That well known hotspot of the tectonic plates sitting just slightly East of the San Andreas fault line ie Ripon in North Yorkshire, had an earthquake last night. My goodness, it was even felt as far afield as Blackpool where I can confirm there was a slight rumbling around 9pm last night which was quickly dismissed as indigestion following a heavy session of chocolate brazil nuts. I imagine last night's earthquake brought about some pretty satisfied Yorkshire women who finally felt the earth move after 30 years of marriage. 
Yesterday saw the passing of actor Pete Postlethwaite aged 64. Steven Spielberg described him as 'the best actor in the world'. The British press have described him as 'a national treasure we didn't know we had'. 
Coronation Street character Tracy Barlow, the epitome of the panto villain got her head bashed in. Of course, Corrie being Corrie, there was a plotline of several characters who are likely suspects. My money's on meek and mousy Claire Peacock. You heard it here first.  
The dreaded VAT went up to 20% yesterday with the UK seemingly going on a nationwide spending spree to avoid the tax increase. My spending spree took me to an outlet to spend £6.50 on a new lamp shade with a grim determination to beat the taxman. 
There's rumours of David Beckham returning to the English Premiership on loan from LA Galaxy. Spurs appear to be the hot favourites to sign him up and it will be great to see him back on home surf. 
The England cricket team are continuing with good form to win the Ashes series at the final test in Sydney. Ricky Ponting bowed out with a broken finger and a not too dissimilar look of a dead man walking. The glory days are over for Australia I fear, but they'll be back. They are just too damn good, but for now and being English, I'm going to savour an English victory completed in emphatic style as it doesn't happen very often.
And finally, just when we got used to not skidding all over the place and having major closures to airports and train services, the big freeze has returned once more with more snow and sub zero temperatures. 
Roll on summer....