Thursday, 29 December 2011

The One Where We Wish For a Happier New Year

Firstly I'd like to apologise for being away from blogging over a month now.

To be frank I just haven't felt like it.

Don't get me wrong I've had plenty to say! 

Christmas shopping, colds, the boy repeating everything I say, my business, hearing about more redundancies where I used to work, endless trips to the supermarket and a stand up row I had with a man in Sainsbury's car park over a mother and child parking space.

All good topics. 

I just couldn't be arsed!

You see a few days after my last post, Hubby was made redundant.

We have gone from being a "professional couple" with a decent income to both of us losing our jobs within four months of each other.

Hubby has been amazing and brave and his old company have been very fair and accommodating. He's come away with a decent package, a proper good bye and his head held high.

Everything I didn't get! 

Seeing how it should be done has just brought back horrible memories of last summer and we've both been a bit down and had a quiet Christmas.

Six of my former colleagues have, in spectacular and almost Scrooge like Dickensian timing, been made redundant just before Christmas too. I know a lot of them personally and I feel for them totally, along with the others put at risk who do still have their jobs. Hopefully they'll come to find peace and something else, more worthwhile to do, so they too can say they are best off out of it as well. 

So now enough is enough.

2012 is a new year and I have to let it go. 

My business is picking up pace and Hubby is applying for new jobs daily.

And when I really think about it, all that happened was we lost our jobs.

We're still here. We're still healthy. We have the boy. And Oscar. All our family. And all our friends.

Not everyone has been so lucky this year and when I get down and bitter and resentful I try to remember that.

A job can be replaced. Often for the better. People are more special.

So hold everyone you love close this Christmas time and tell them how much they mean to you.

Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year for you all.

And I promise more posts in 2012 to keep you laughing. (unlike this one where we're all blubbing- including me)


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The One Where We Plan the Hen Do

Ken gets married next May and I am delighted to be her Matron of Honour.

So on Saturday, with my recently ordered dress in hand, I met at Hen Do HQ, (Ken's Mum's flat), with the other bridesmaids, who are Barbie and Ken's sister Towie, (Barbie's cousin is also a bridesmaid but couldn't make it).

The dress was tried on and declared a success! We will need a panel at the back to accommodate "Morecambe and Wise" but that's nothing new. When I see people on TV wanting breast enlargements I want to scream, "Come a try and week with my puppies. Then tell me you'll pay thousands of pounds for chronic back ache and clothes that never fit properly"!

Anyway Ken and her Mum were dispatched "up the town" and like the three witches of Macbeth we plotted and schemed over our cauldron of evil intent!

The Cava flowed and so did the ideas. In the end they're not all that evil, but they are very very funny. Three days and nights of debauched partying at Bognor Regis Butlins next February will provide some amazing blogs I can assure you. If they have free WIFI in any of the Burger bars there then I'll blog live from the event!

Hubby and Ken had persuaded me to stay over so I could have a few drinks and enjoy the night out planned after the plotting had finished.

I'm so glad I did. Not only did I get to watch a bit of Strictly instead of "In the Night Garden" while we munched pizza and got ready together in that "Let me do your make up. Can I borrow your eyeliner? Do I wear this top or the new one?" way that girls do, which I really miss, but I also got to experience Felixstowe on a Saturday night!

We started off at a very sedate bar and I re-hydrated on a couple of lime and sodas after I was informed by Ken's Mum that we'd polished off 8 bottles of Cava between us that afternoon (and Ken was an hour and half behind)!

Then we moved on to watch a band at a pub further down the sea front. 

The pub was hot and sweaty. 

The band were loud and sweaty. 

The beer was warm and sweaty. 

I must be getting old because I like a drink to experience the pleasure of that drink. So for example a G&T should come in a tumbler with ice and lemon. Not tepid and in a finger print stained half pint glass! This was the kind of place where the experience is to get it down your neck with as little fuss possible, the sole aim being getting so drunk you stop noticing how much your shoes are sticking to the carpet!

That pub is what it is though and I was having a great time. The band were good, doing covers of Snow Patrol, White Stripes and Kings of Leon and similar stuff so musically I was happy. 

A fight broke out between a couple of women and their blokes waded in to join them. Ken was concerned I was ok as I hate stuff like that but I was trying to have a trunk and see who started it!

The night moved on and we were having a dance as the band were cranking it up when I spotted a women in a very short red dress with white spots all over it. Weird! I looked up. There was another. And another. And another. They had small black ears. One had even blacked her nose over.

Nine Minnie Mouses (or should that be Minnie Mice), on a hen do, had come in the pub and were dancing to the band!

Well no that's not strictly true. Two were properly dancing. One was bopping about like she needed a wee. Three were smiling in a bemused way, not unlike Dougal from Father Ted, and had no idea what to do or possibly why they were there. The bride to be, who I assume won't be seeing 60 again and really, really shouldn't have been dressed as Minnie Mouse, was looking a bit tired and emotional (not necessarily through drink but more likely through a need for her bed and a cup of cocoa) and the last two hadn't really entered into the spirit of things at all. They hadn't dressed up, apart from a half hearted attempt of a red top with white spots on. No ears, no dress and certainly no extra mouse nose adornments! They stood at the back, supped their drinks, didn't dance, rolled their eyes and had faces like smacked arses!

It was at this point I got the giggles. 

I mean real belly laughs. I couldn't look at Barbie or Mr Barbie (who'd joined us for the band) because I'd laugh more and if the mice on the mouse organ had spotted me I feared another fight would kick off. I'd forgotten to pack a wedge of cheddar and some traps in my handbag so I didn't fancy taking on nine random, slightly pissed, rodents. 

I'm so pleased the band didn't ask for requests because it would've taken all my strength to not shout out "Three Blind Mice" or "A Mouse Lived in a Windmill"!

Mind you by this point nothing would've surprised me! The pub already sported a woman in jeans and a black basque, another woman doing a constant box step wearing ripped tights, a PE skirt and a trilby hat and a massive guy in Union Jack boots and a kilt which, because it wasn't tartan and was just plain black, looked like a skirt!

The sights you see when you haven't got your gun!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The One with the Catalogue and the Pastry Pecker

Sometimes I have the sense of humour of a seven year old!

Not just any old seven year old. Specifically a seven year old boy!

And if Lemon Cake Lady is to be believed I'm giving myself undue credit by saying seven. My mind is akin to a four year old really. 

Stupid stuff. Silly puns. Flippancy. Rude things. Trumps, willies and bums. They all make me laugh.

Sophisticated aren't I?

I've had a tough week so last night, over at Lemon Cake Lady's house, we had a couple of cheeky wines, a perfect pizza and a pile of Pecan Tassies. Making tassies involves pastry. Where there's a bit of spare pastry, some nimble fingers and my keen and mature comedy mind, there's always an opportunity for a bit of ..ahem, ahem.. "model making".

There was a picture but Hubby has strictly forbade me from putting it on here. He says you must all think I'm weird enough already without posting pictures of pastry penises! 

After my foray into Henry Moore sculpture, we got a free, "shoved through your door", Christmas catalogue out and, for want of a more delicate expression, took the piss! 

Now I love a bit of Christmas tat but this was on a whole new level! It was all, without exception, what LCL and I would call "handcrafted", which is our code for absolute tut!

There was a "Delicacy Tree", which is like a mini cupcake stand for sweets!

I was thinking of getting one and putting a raisin on each dish and watching the boys face go "Mum - have you gone mad?"

There was a shallow bowl for fruit, sweets or nuts 

It looks perfectly innocuous but it has a compartment for batteries in the bottom and when you switch it on, it lights up and changes colour from red to green to blue.

I'm thinking of getting Hubby one for the festive season as I'm sure he's always wanted to light his nuts up for Christmas!

What I love about this was in the text underneath, it made a point of saying "For cold food only"! 


It's glass and battery powered. Are you sure I can't put it in the oven? I've always dreamt of illuminating my Shepherds pie! 

Then as a piste de resistance we discovered something no home should be without this Christmas!

A Santa bottle topper!

I rest my case!

And do you know what's really sad?

I want to order them all!

Because as tacky as they are - I love them!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The One with the Unexpected Question

Jingles was cancelled yesterday due to a lack of hall to hold it in,  so we went to a local indoor play centre for the morning instead. We met up with three of the NCT ladies and their boys, plus when I arrived I spotted another friend with her little girl too.

Happy Days!

Or so I thought!

The boy is often better playing on a one to one basis. I know that. But it does him good to mix in bigger groups and he does do well at Jingles and at gym club so I wasn't unduly worried.

He took a little while to get used to the cavernous warehouse that is Play-2-Day and seemed slightly overwhelmed. He's been there before but ages ago so I thought this might happen. It happened last time. He takes time to adjust to some new surroundings, especially big noisy rooms. Well he doesn't go to nursery yet so I can see why.

He played. He ran around. He went off on his own and then he'd check where I was. He laughed at peek a boo with me in the Little Tikes play house. He ran headlong into a little girl and they both cried. He melted down at toys that didn't quite do what he wanted them to. He obsessed about the big fire engine and police car in the area for older children. He wasn't sure if he liked the ball pit or not! He had a drink and two lots of snacks. He wouldn't sit still for long. He took himself off on his own and sat in the Peppa Pig ride several times!

He was generally, the boy!

Maybe I'm just used to him but I didn't think anything of it. 

We'd been there about an hour and a half when a lady I didn't know approached me.

"I hope you don't mind me asking but is your little boy autistic?" she said

"No!" I replied. I was completely gob smacked!

"It's just that my son is eight and has just been diagnosed with autism and I recognise some of the early signs in your little boy"

For all my confidence coaching and new found self assurance I completed crumbled. Tears welled up in my eyes and when asked if I minded her bringing it up I said no it was fine.

Of course it wasn't fine. She was a complete stranger and it was bloody rude to be brutally honest but I didn't say a word.

And it was this that annoyed me about the situation the most. My complete inability to assert myself! 

She went on to talk about her children, one has ADHD the other autism and she had two others as well! She said she'd been watching my boy for a while and he seemed stressed in social situations and switched quickly from perfectly happy to a complete tantrum.

Well love you want to keep an eye on your own kids and stop watching mine thank you very much.

Did I say that? Did I hell. I think I said something weak and non committal like "I see".

I was crestfallen. You see I don't believe the boy is autistic. And believe me I was up at 4 am this morning, unable to sleep researching it on the internet! I think he's a toddler who is full of energy and personality. However, much like hubby and myself when we were little, he likes to take himself out of crowds and have his own space, particularly when he's not familiar with the setting.

The reason I was so upset, apart from not speaking my mind, was that I felt like the worst mother in the world. Was my boy so badly behaved that a complete stranger mistook his personality for autism?

Don't get me wrong, if he is autistic, and I will go and speak to a health visitor now I'm so shaken up by it all, I won't be ashamed. It's nothing to be ashamed of. I'll be scared out of my mind. I'll feel anger and resent and lots of selfish emotions like how the hell will I cope. I'll feel terrible that the boy may not fulfil his full potential. But I would never be ashamed.

I'm just angry at myself for not asserting myself more.

The woman carried on even though I had turned away, partly to try and compose myself and partly to just get away from her. 

"The doctors said the reason my son was late walking and talking was because he has two older sisters and they did everything for him" she carried on. 

Hubby has three older sisters. He was very late talking. He didn't speak until he was three and had to go and see a speech therapist when he was a school so I completely got what she was saying.

But the boy wasn't late walking and certainly not talking. Given Hubby's problems with speech as a toddler we've been really pleased with how the boy's language is progressing.

Then it suddenly occurred to me! The boy is tall. Very tall. Hubby is 6 foot 4 inches so he was always going to be.

"Well my son wasn't late doing either" I said much more assertively. "He's only 20 months old you know. He's like any other little one who is nearly two. He has tantrums".

"Oh. He looks a lot older. My little girl is two and quarter and he's far more advanced than her" she back peddled.

Well, if his speech is more advanced than your two year old he's hardly bloody autistic then is he!

But again I didn't say it.

She sloped away without another word and shortly afterwards left.

I told the girls what had happened. They were, as always the amazing support network they always are but I was upset, troubled and frankly pissed off.

We decided three things:

1) Due to his height the boy looks about 2 and a half. I may well be plagued with misunderstandings for as long as he seems about a year older than he actually is! 

2) I have a neon sign on my head that says "Bring your troubles to me. I'm a nice person. I'm as soft as lights and I'll take your problems on for you". 

3) Some people try and make themselves feel better by offloading their woes onto others.

And I think that was what it was. Her son had just been diagnosed with autism and she was searching for a kindred spirit. Another lost soul. Maybe I just give off vulnerable "I don't know what the hell I'm doing come and make me feel worse about it" vibes! 

One of my fellow blogger Crystal Jigsaw has an autistic daughter and writes an honest, moving and very funny blog about the daily life of bringing up an autistic child.

She is inspiring, almost always cheerful and constantly proud and amazed at her beautiful daughter and they way she looks at life. 

Maybe I should've told this lady about Crystal? Because she certainly wouldn't have minced her words! 

Monday, 7 November 2011

The One with the Meal Out

The boy is being particularly trying at the moment.

On Saturday he virtually concussed poor Fairy Godmother Ken by accidentally whacking her over the head with a plastic toy box! Some tissues, to mop up the blood from the cut, and two paracetamol later and she seemed OK but I was mortified.

Today, at Jingles, he was described by a mum I know as "willful"!

That's just polite for "stubborn little sod" in my book!

So on Sunday, which was Nanny P's birthday, our planned trip to Pizza Express filled me with anticipation and moments of sheer doom!

You see I used to be one of those people.

I was a tutter!

And in all fairness so was my Mum. In fact she was worse than me.

I didn't have children, I'd paid for a nice quiet meal out with my husband/friend/parents/anyone who'd buy me dinner and I didn't want it spoilt by other people's screaming kids, thank you very much!

I cringe now when I think back and although it seems my patience levels are currently at an all time low, my tolerance is much better than it ever was before the days of the boy.

Now I understand, and even agree, that taking small children to restaurants improves their behaviour and social skills. I get it.

Doesn't stop me being nervous of it though! And bless Nanny P she is too. We are both to acutely aware of the curse of the tutter and we both feel the embarrassment of the situation and our past misdemeanors.

The problem is my Mum doesn't help and always makes me worse when we take the boy out in public. She looks permanently surprised with a wide eyed "I can't believe I'm doing this" expression on her face, coupled with an involuntary tick where she constantly looks around to check if anyone is staring at us!

But the boy is nothing but an entertainer and in these days of family orientated restaurants, any slight melt downs went completely unnoticed, such was the amount of little ones in there at 5 pm last night. I would go as far as to say he was great.

He started playing a game where he'd hide a book behind his back, say "Gone" then, when asked where it had gone, would point over to the kitchen area and say "There. Apples" and laugh as it was quite clearly not in the kitchen but behind his back.

This had added comic value due to the "Apples" in question actually being plastic tomatoes decorating the shelves above where the pizza's were being made. More importantly on one occasion the boy, showing the same comedy magic skills of Tommy Cooper, said "There" and pointed to the kitchen with the hand that still had the book in it!

So I should be braver and just get on with it. The boy is fine, as long as he has a game and a new audience to play to.

He's only trying because he needs constant entertaining and to be constantly entertaining.

So eating out with a toddler is easy, if you do it just like that........

Friday, 4 November 2011

The One with the Leaving Meal

That's it!

I've finally and officially left work.

Last night was my long awaited leaving meal and now I should have, what the Americans call, "closure".

I had a wonderful time. We ate spicy Mexican food, I downed three large glasses of Pinot Grigio and most importantly I enjoyed the fabulous company of a select and loyal band of, not just former work colleagues, but true friends.

But do I have "closure"? 

I couldn't honestly tell you. I'm not sure I'll ever know. 

Some things I do know though. 

I know I don't drink much anymore and I'm taking antibiotics (which I checked I could drink with at the last minute) , Covonia and paracetamol for my sore throat, bad sinuses and chest so I was off my tits on one glass of wine. By glass number three I was feeling no pain at all. The pain came this morning with a thumping headache and Oscar and the boy vying for my attention at 6.30 am!

I know I now have the leaving card I craved for, with messages of good luck on and something for me to keep and treasure forever.

I know that despite everything I'm very lucky to be given this opportunity to finally do something I've always wanted to. 

I know I'm more than lucky to have the boy. 

I know everything will be all right.

I know so much has changed and will change in the next year.

I know that I made amazing friends in the 13 and a half years with my old company and I always seem to have a hangover when I've been out with them.

Closure or no closure let's hope that's one thing that never changes.........

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The One with the Regular Column

Today is a bit of an exciting day!

Today the November edition of Strictly Business magazine comes out.

And I'm in it!

I have a regular monthly feature called Starting Again, all about what has happened since my redundancy and setting up a new business.

Here's the link so please have a look and let me know what you think?

I feel like Nelson!

I've got a column......

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The One with the Empty Packet

Trips to the supermarket are always rich sources of amusement for the blog.

Maybe that's why I still take my life in my hands twice a week and push a toddler in a trolley round a bright, noisy, over stimulating shop full of things he wants to hold, shake, break or chew.

Lemon Cake Lady has long since given up this ritual and has a man deliver her shopping to her front door like Margot ordering Christmas in The Good Life! Granted some of the delivery guys look like serial killers and scare the bejesus out of her but it's still preferable to dragging a two year old round to do your weekly shop. So she doesn't understand why I don't do the same.  

After yesterday I'm inclined to agree with her!

The boy normally enjoys a "trolley adventure" and, maybe more by luck than judgement, has always been as good as gold before. That's not to say he was awful this time. I've seen and heard a lot worse. But he was "out of sorts"!

To be fair we all are. Hubby is away in Hong Kong on holiday. This makes us sound like global jet setters. Oh my husband has just popped over to Hong Kong to see friends. In reality he's gone to a close friends wedding and thought long and hard about the expense and time away from his family before he committed to going. I think he worried most about missing the cat personally but it's the thought that counts!

Unfortunately this trip of a lifetime has coincided with me having a throat and chest infection with a large dollop of cold and sinus pain heaped on top. The boy has caught my cold and now so has Nanny P.

After a weekend stuck in doors constantly "wiping" Monday morning came and I felt the need for a drive out.

Wild and crazy as I am we went o Asda! Cor I know how to live on the edge! Even if it's only the edge of town.

Asda may be the other side of town but I am now officially addicted to their Orange, Pineapple and Coconut juice because it tastes like you're drinking Malibu in the morning, and the pseudo naughtiness of that gets me through the day. When a grisly toddler is flicking yogurt at you at 7.30 in the morning, to quote a rival supermarket, every little helps!

Like a good and organised Mummy I'd taken juice and snacks to placate the boy during the ride round the store.

But once I'd finally coaxed him into the trolley he ate them in a bout three seconds flat!

The boy started to scream. Loudly. He lunged for my bag where the empty snack pots were now stashed.

"Mummy doesn't have anything else babe" I tried to say calmly "You've eaten them all up"


Proper toddler tantrum meltdown down the baby aisle in Asda. 

Right! What do I do now?

So did I do what all the guides, books and websites tell you to do and kindly but firmly tell the toddler that the food had "all gone" and distract him with songs, games and descriptions of exotic, organic fruits and vegetables?

Did I hell! I grabbed a packet of sweetcorn rings snacks off the shelf, opened them and let the boy devour the lot the rest of the way round.

Face was filled. Coat was covered in crumbs. Peace was restored!

Watching the empty packet drift it's way along the conveyor belt towards the assistant at the till I felt a sense of solidarity with my fellow mothers. I'd finally done what I swore I'd never do and it felt good.

Unlike the snotty lady in Tescos who moaned about the empty toy packet the other month the chap serving me in Asda was charm itself.

"Oh this isn't the first time I've had to do this" he smiled "And I'm sure it won't be the last"

"Oh that's good to know" I said relieved "It's hard for them to understand at this age and they just can't wait" I sighed as I stacked the bags in the trolley and picked up the pet insurance leaflet the boy was playing with for the umpteenth time.

"Oh it's not the kids that are the problem" the guy said "It's the adults. I had a bloke in here the other day who'd got BBQ ribs from the deli counter and ate them on the way round the shop!" 

He went on to tell me he'd been presented with a sticky, yet very empty carton to scan through the till.

I knew they tolerated children doing it but adults! Don't people have any restraint?

Clearly not. And if that's the case I really had better start ordering my shopping online or the next time the boy loses it I'll let him rip open a multi pack of Pom Bears and you'll find me swigging straight from my carton of juice. 

Only this time it will be laced with real Malibu!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The One with Hillsborough

One of the great things about writing topical comedy is you have to keep up with the news.

However sometimes the news just isn't funny! But it touches you in ways you don't expect.

I've yet to go to Liverpool but I love Scousers. I love their wit, their confidence and their pride in their city. Most of all I love the accent. I could literally listen to a Liverpudlian talk all day.

I do a passable Scouse and have had the pleasure of playing Rita In Educating Rita and Mrs Johnson in Blood Brothers. I also have a pact with Actor Laddie that he'll direct me in Shirley Valentine when I'm 45! Three and a half years away.. ouch!

On 15th April 1989 my Dad travelled up to see his team play in a FA Cup Semi final. In those days both matches were played at the same time on a Saturday. They weren't televised. You had to wait until Match of The Day for the highlights. There was no Sky Sports, no rolling 24 hour news, no Radio 5 Live, no internet and no mobile phones.

Fans stood at matches behind huge wire fences. To keep them in! Caged!

I was on a bus travelling home from work when I heard they'd been trouble at an FA Cup semi final. Which one? No one seemed to know. Back then if you were in town on Saturday and wanted to know the football scores you had to peer in Curry's window at Grandstand for the half times or the teleprinter at 4.45.

Curry's was still on the high street in those days!

Someone at the back of the bus had heard it was fighting. Hooligans. Probably drunk. 

Scousers someone else said.

That didn't narrow it down. Liverpool were playing Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, Everton were playing Norwich at Villa Park!

People got on and off the bus. There's people dying someone said.

I was frantic. How the hell were people dying at a football match? This must be bad.

Did anyone know which ground?

Hillsborough came the reply.

My Dad's a Canary. He'd gone to the other game.

I got home and realised this wasn't just "trouble". These people weren't drunk or fighting. They were dying at a football match. I saw fans break up advertising boards to make stretchers, lift people over the fences, try and help in the sheer desperation of what was happening before them.

No one should ever just go out to watch a sport and not come back. I hugged my Dad within an inch of his life when he got home. Norwich had lost 1- 0 but he didn't seem to care much. It wasn't that important anymore.

10 years on when Hubby and I were planning our wedding I had a joke with my Dad. He always said I wasn't to get married until I was 30. The nearest Saturday, 5 days after my 30th birthday was 15th April 2000. We'll get married then I laughed.

My dad and I looked at each other and remembered the date. No, maybe not. Not that day! Hubby and I bought the wedding forward to Sept 1999.

You see Hillsborough could've happened anywhere. The Taylor report proved that. Many grounds were old, out of date with no provision for large crowds of people to get in or out.

Don't get me wrong hooliganism and Heysel hadn't helped but fans were treated like animals, packed in without a thought for safety.

Today football fans tell me they hate having to sit at a match. It spoils the atmosphere they say. You can't connect with your team. Football is a corporate machine now. Prawn sandwich eating, business men that pay £70 quid a ticket to wine and dine and not really watch the game.

But at least people are safe and shown some respect. If they can afford to go!

22 years on and so much has changed. There are no electrical stores on the high street anymore. If you want the footie scores you can get them 24 hours a day on your I-Phone. There's no news flashes. Sky has breaking news every other minute. The internet has taken over. We have the premiership now. Big clubs have amazing grounds with top notch facilities and people expect that. You have to sit down. Players get more money a week than most of us would ever hope to earn in a lifetime. FA Cup semi finals are played at Wembley.

But some things don't change! You still wear your colours. You still support the team your Dad did. You still want a pie and a Bovril when you go to the ground. I'm still made to spit my piece of gum out if the other team score because it's unlucky then you see so you have to get a new bit!

For the families of the 96 on Merseyside things haven't changed. They still have their grief, their sadness, their unanswered questions. Their lack of justice.

Yesterday, hopefully, went some way to putting that right.

You don't expect to cry when you watch BBC Parliament but as MP for Liverpool Steve Rotherham made his emotional speech and read out the names and ages of the 96 in the House of Commons yesterday, tears streamed down my face. I know since I became a Mum I'll cry at anything but so many were so young. Sons and daughters with their lives ahead of them. They just went to watch football for Christ sake! 

It's important that the relatives finally get some answers, some action and apologies but it's also important to not forget all those who survived but are still affected today. So many were injured not just physically but mentally too.

Last Spring, when we did Blood Brothers, I did some research on Hillsborough, as the story finishes at the end of the 1980's. You can't do a play set in Liverpool in the 80's and not need to understand the impact Hillsborough had on the city and it's people. I found this, which is one of the most moving, honest, emotional and upsetting things I've ever read and I can honestly say I was crying by the end of it. 

Neil Fitzmaurice on Hillsborough

Ironically I now chat to Neil sometimes on Twitter. He's a proper actor, off the telly and everything, so he doesn't have to bother with the likes of me, but he does because he's a lovely guy. He's a husband, a dad and a real person. A parent like me. 

Hubby can't wait until the boy is old enough to take to the footie with him. And I'll probably be scared witless everytime he does! But he'll go because that's what you do. That's what I did with my dad. But Neil is right they should teach children about Hillsborough and Bradford and Ibrox in history at school. So it never ever happens again.

I hope the debate in parliament is the start of the end for the families because as Steve Rotherham said all football fans must say to themselves about Hillsborough "There for the grace of god..."

That's how my Dad felt because whatever your teams colours, Hillsborough was a sad day for football and fans everywhere.

And that's why there should be justice for the 96.

And that's why, as a Mum and a football fan, for me, they must never walk alone!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The One with the Husky Voice

I've woken up all croaky!

To be fair I've felt like I've been hatching something all week and have been trying to keep it at bay with a combination of Buttercup syrup, Covonia and various tablets! 

The voice wasn't great during last nights performance but this morning it was a mere crackle of what it should be. It was also accompanied by a banging headache!

Hubby has been great and let me have lies in where he could all week but today was the mother of them all!

But boy I needed it.

But then so does poor hubby. These 5 am starts are killing us both.

Still tonight is the last show of this run and my emotions are mixed with a tinge of sadness, a touch of relief and a generous dollop of anxiety!

My character Beverly is rarely off stage. She pops to the toilet in the second act for all of two pages but apart from that she holds court from comic start to tragic finish. Ironically there is no access to the toilets from backstage at this theatre so I can't actually go which is a shame as I'm bursting at that point due to the sheer amount of "drinks" we get through. Bev offers G&T's incessantly and in Act 1 alone we get through a litre of fake "gin", half a bottle of fake "Barcadi", half a bottle of fake "scotch", a small bottle of coke and 4 tonics as mixers!

By the interval we are all desperate and have to get the stage management to hold the auditorium doors so the cast can run to the loos we share with the audience. You don't want to see the punters at half time and spoil the allusion so after a quick tiddle it's a mad dash through the front door, out onto the street, in costume and a quick run round to the back of the building to come through the stage door!

All very interesting when you're doing Shakespeare. I had some very funny looks one light spring evening as I belted up the road in full period costume!

Passers by are going to get more than they bargained for when we do Calendars Girls next autumn!

So lets hope the voice holds out and the last performance is as great as the others have been!

Saturday audiences expect a good night. After all they have paid their money to leave the warm and comfort of their own homes to be entertained. We're up against X-Factor and Strictly these days and it's tough to pull people away from the lure of a take-away and the telly.

And after all they're going to expect to be able to hear the leading lady....

Friday, 14 October 2011

The One With the Stages

I'm sorry. I've been neglecting you! 

I'm being a thespian at the moment so I've had the run up to the show and show week is on now.

But that's no real excuse!

I had every intention of writing a blog, or at least a mini blog post, each night after the show but the boy has had other ideas!

Just as Mummy is on stage this week, the boy has decided to go through a stage himself and wake up between 4 and 5 am every morning demanding milk and then, once his thirst has been satisfied, calling out

"Choo, Choo." until we get him up and take him downstairs to watch Thomas the Tank Engine.

As Thomas doesn't come on until 6 am it's sometimes a tense and fraught 2 hours telling him to go back to sleep.

As you will see the boy is fickle and has abandoned fire engines in favour of trains now which is a shame as Fireman Sam doesn't come on until 8!

Instead of blogging when I get in from the theatre I'm trying to get straight to bed in anticipation of an early start the next day.

I have discovered that toddlers and theatre hours don't mix! Even though I have rather cutely taught the boy to say the word theatre when I ask him where Mummy has to go in the evening!

So we're half way through the run of Abigail's Party, Mike Leigh's dark and comic masterpiece and although the voice is going and the throat is rough from all the herbal cigarettes I have to smoke I couldn't be happier.

Here's the review we had from our local BBC Radio arts and ents correspondent. I'm in brown and turquoise in the picture. It's not the most flattering picture of me but then Beverly isn't the most flattering person I've ever played.

She's the most fun though!

Friday, 30 September 2011

The One With the Tree Surgeon and My Pants

Next door are having a huge eucalyptus tree removed from their garden.

We knew the work was going to happen soon so we were prepared and looking forward to all the lovely light it would reveal and flood into the back of our house. We just didn't quite know the exact date it was going to happen.

This morning the tree surgeons turned up!

When they arrived I was feeding the boy his breakfast, clad only in a t-shirt and my pants. Well it's been unseasonably warm so I've slept in little else. Inspired by a recent Twitter conversation about music, I'd dug out "Funky Divas" by En Vogue and was trying to get the boy to eat his Bitesize Shredded Wheat whilst booty bouncing, badly, to 'Free Your Mind". I'd not thought anything of this when suddenly there was a knock on the back door.

I turned and looked out of my dining room window to see a young, fit and very hot young tree surgeon smiling back at me!

Hubby was only in his dressing gown but I still sent him to the back door in preference to my pant wearing self. Hubby was not impressed with my state of undress and brazen attitude.

"Put some clothes on" he chastised

"Ah go on" I said "It's all right. I've got a nice bum and legs. Shame my tits are dragging on the floor but I think I got away with it."

"No you haven't" hubby hissed "They're laughing"

Two other, young, hot, fit tree surgeons emerged from next doors garden. They'd obviously all seen my 'Strictly Come Twatting About' through the window and were quite frankly pissing themselves!

"We'll be making a bit of a mess of your garden today" the hot tree surgeon said to hubby suppressing his giggles "Sorry about that!"

Not as sorry as I was feeling!

"We'll be done by the end of the day." he assured us.

In reality the job has turned out to be larger than they first anticipated, not helped by one of their number having a log fall on his leg, resulting in a trip to A&E and the poor chap ending up on crutches.

The upshot of all this means they'll be here all next week. 

Not that I'm complaining. I've had a very pleasant view out of my window all day.

Much more pleasant than they one they had first thing this morning.....

Monday, 26 September 2011

Listography/The One With Five Celebrities I'd Like To Have A Beer With

I'm joining in with a fellow bloggers "Listography" this week over at Kate Takes 5.

Every week she gives us bloggers a topic and we chuck our four penneth worth in.

This week it's "The Five Celebrities I'd Like To Go For A Beer With".

I've never been for a drink with a celebrity, which is a source of disappointment to me now I think about it.

I've sat on the same table at lunch as 3-2-1's Ted Rogers, I once bought a gin and tonic for the woman who played Jacko's sister in Brush Strokes and I also bought a whiskey for the comedy writer Mike Craig. 

I was having a drink in the same room as Roy Hudd and June Whitfield and they were drinking too. They didn't talk to me. To be fair they didn't know who I was so there was no reason why they should.

I've been lucky enough to meet a few celebrities over the years via Hubby's work and at various charity golf days I went to with my Mum and Dad when I was younger.  And by just hanging about at the back of theatres. Stalking people! No that's a joke. I don't stalk people. Well not anymore. I promised the judge I'd stop!

I've even met a few of my idols, Paul Merton, Ronnie Corbett and Paula Radcliffe (it's an eclectic mix). I once saved Sir Terry Wogan from certain death from a golf cart (that's a "bit" of an exaggeration really. I just said 'Oh mind out! there's a golf cart coming" and we stepped aside as he signed an autograph for me) and Jimmy Tarbuck once remarked on my resemblance to his daughter - who was only standing a few feet away and yet to have become a household name. He didn't, however, remark on my dad's resemblance to him! 

So all in all I've had my fair share of celebrity spots but I've never had a beer with one.

This was going to take some thinking about. I do love a list and this one wasn't to be rushed.

I started off with a 'long list' with the intention of narrowing it down.

When I finished I realised that nearly everyone was a comedian, they were all male and mostly all dead!

I scrapped that list and started another!

I asked Hubby for his opinion. Hubby is notorious for hating just about everyone on TV (with the exception of his own private list of course) and couldn't think of anyone he'd like to go for a beer with. 

"What no one? No random guitarists, heavy metal musicians or footballers?" I asked

Hubby thought!

"No!" he concluded "Most people on TV are w*nkers"! and that was the gospel according to Hubby.

For someone who always aspired to be in the public eye herself this wasn't an encouraging response!

So anyway, after much thought and deliberation here are my final five:

1) Jimmy Carr 


He reminds me Bob Monkhouse, who was one of the sadly deceased celebrities on my long list. He's as dry as a martini, wickedly funny, topical and often just that little bit over the mark. He also laughs like a drain. 

2) Liza Tarbuck


As I mentioned it has been said I look a bit like her! In fact when The Big Breakfast was at it's peak I worked with a chap who looked like Johnny Vaughan. Oh how we laughed. She is also very funny, a great presenter and actress and she's Jimmy Tarbuck's daughter. What more reason do you need. He's comedy royalty!

3) Peter Kay


He doesn't drink. But we'd have a Baileys because we don't give a sh*t! 

I would probably freak him out by quoting his entire act back to him! Garlic bread and cheesecake anyone?

4) Eric Morecambe


If I could turn back time, I'd tell Cher that see through net body suit and chaps were a bad idea, but more importantly I'd meet Eric Morecambe. I'd make sure he only drank squash because booze would be bad for his heart and I'd tell him to go home early and stop jumping about like a teenager. I'd bring a paper bag though so he could do the imaginary ball trick. But I'd like to think he always carried one anyway. Just in case.

5) Sir Terry Wogan


He's the reason I love the radio. Why I still love listening to it. Why I love broadcasting on it. 
I also reckon we could do a bottle of Irish whisky a fair bit of damage. 

So there they are. My top five celebrity drinking buddies. In my dreams hey!

Pop over to Kate Takes 5 and have a look at who others bloggers have chosen.

Cheers. All the best!