I’m being childish again….

Yes people, once again I'm being a bit of a five year old.

A while back, Mr Vicola and I decided we wanted to move house. This was because my parents happened to have had a nosy at one that was for sale on their estate at the posh end of town. It was a four bedroomed detached house on a big plot with a fab garden and a little flat attached and the reason it was just about within our price range was that it needed an awful lot of work doing to it. And I mean a lot. It needed ripping out inside and completely renovating but it was all cosmetic stuff so we decided we could do it and put our own house on the market. Then we spotted another one round the corner from the big one that we also liked and that didn't need a lot doing to it. Thing was we'd told everyone we liked the big scruffy one and DIDN'T tell anyone except my parents, brother and my best friend that we'd changed our minds and now preferred the less scruffy one, even though it was smaller. And none of them told anyone else.

Anyway, the house we preferred got snapped up by someone else and so we decided to stay in our current house and put a conservatory on the back and when I told my mother this she said it was a relief because she wanted to tell me something that would probably piss me off. A cast iron guarantee that I'm going to be annoyed is that.

We have a family that have been friends with my family for 30 years. They lived on our road when my mother was pregnant with me and J, the mother, was pregnant with her first daughter. Me and L (the daughter) were sort of brought up together, each other's houses were interchangable to us. Mum went on to have my brother and J went on to have another daughter, C. C is possibly the most universally unpopular person I know. She was a butt ugly lump of a child who permanently had train tracks of snot running down from her nostrils and who had a whine that could set every one of your nerves jangling. She used to wind the rather more volatile but lovely L up then grass her out to her mother and stand by smirking as poor L got a bollocking. She didn't get any more attractive or charming as she grew older and once she discovered the concept of lying she really ran with it. Still does in fact. No one trusts a word she says. She's now living with a man rather older than herself who seems to have inordinatly huge amounts of money to throw about considering his occupation and they have a daughter. They live in a nice Victorian terraced house at the not posh end of the town.

So, mum tells me that a few days before they'd been for dinner with C and L's parents and C's father had announced "You know that big house that Vicola and Mr Vicola are interested in? Well C and K (her other half) have bought it". Now we weren't at that point interested in the house but the point is that she didn't know that, she thought we were and so to go and do that was in my opinion a shit thing to do. My mother was evidently of the same mind because she told C's mother in no uncertain terms that it was bang out of order and C should have had the decency to check whether I minded before going ahead. No one even knew C and K were planning on moving, it was all kept perfectly secret until it was a fait accompli and to add insult to injury I was the only person she didn't invite to the pre-building work party she had at the house because she didn't have the balls to face up to the bollocking she was expecting from me.

Now she's just put a load of photos of the massive amount of building work they're doing on the house up on Facebook. They are moving walls, extending and gutting the entire interior, far more work that we could have afforded to do had we bought it. Now I know that she's probably just pleased that there's work going on and that it's all very exciting blah blah blah but I can't help feeling a little bit like she's rubbing it in my face because she knows I'll see them. And deep down, in that secret place you don't like to acknowledge, I can't help hoping it all goes badly wrong, that it runs horribly overbudget, is gruesomely decorated and winds up looking crap. I also hope my suspicion that he hasn't bothered to research the area is correct and he spends so much on the extensive building work that he will never ever make recoup his money because anyone with the amount he'd have to charge to do so doesn't buy on that estate, they buy on the next one along that is more rural.

Is that wrong?

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London trip pt 1

So, this weekend Mr Vicola and myself took a little trip to the Capital for some sightseeing and to go to a party. We travelled up on Thursday and spent Thursday evening eating takeaway and watching 'Munich'. Incidentally, a bit of free advice to all you Indian takeaway fans out there, learn from our error. When ordering onion bhajis do specify that you want three bhajis as opposed to three portions of bhajis. We did think the quote on the phone was a little steep and to be honest, once you factor in your actual meal, rice and poppadoms, 9 bhajis was rather more than we needed between three people.

Anyway, Friday we had tickets to go to Oxford. Having a sense of perspective and direction that practically classes as a disability I had no idea how far away West Dulwich is from Paddington Station. In case anyone was wondering, it's a fair old hike and involves a 15 minute walk to the West Dulwich train station, a 15 minute train journey to Victoria, a 5 minute tube journey to Oxford circus, a change to another line and then another tube trip to Paddington. However what I also failed to appreciate, given that my commute involves 45 minutes sat in my car like a vegetable crawling along the M60 at between 0 and 10mph is that public transport in the capital can be a bit hairy at rush hour. And by this I do mean lethal. We arrived at Victoria station and headed down to the Victoria line underground station however there was a delay on the line, a crowd of roughly the size and density usually seen emptying out of Old Trafford on a Saturday afternoon were on the platform and every man jack of them was determined to get on the next tube train, no matter if the laws of physics dictated that this was an impossibility due to the fact that only one body of matter can occupy a space at any one time. As the 3rd tube train that we couldn't fit onto rolled past and the twat behind me surged forwards once again, banging me into the moving train I decided to deploy elbows as a means of self defence and with as much force as I could muster in a restricted space, aimed for his ribs. The muffled grunt and snarl of 'bitch' convinced me that I'd hit target. As the 4th train rolled up it was obvious to all but the most blitheringly stupid that no one was going to be able to get on it yet still the crowd behind us surged forward pitching those at the front, like myself, perilously close to losing our feet as the carriages passed by. At this point the Vicola temper, prodded like an grumpy snake by my dislike of small places and other people, finally bit and with some loudly uttered profanities, the thought that perhaps 8.45am wasn't too early for a G&T in these trying circumstances and the judicious use of more elbow power I made my exceedingly frazzled way to the back of the crowd. Mr Vicola was not best pleased because by this time our chances of making our Oxford train were slim but by hopping onto the Circle line we made it in time, just.

On our arrival, although it was pissing it down, Oxford turned out to be very pretty with a lot of bicycles and a lovely river that was looking a tiny bit rabid due to the excessive rainfall and snow melt. We tootled off down a backstreet to find a cafe for some breakfast. Having ordered a full English and some tea all was good and it was here that I came across a bizarre thing that I hadn't realised before: All students in Oxford are posh and many are exceedingly pretentious. I eavesdropped into the following conversation between students while eating:

PS (Posh Student)1: And I was like sitting there and she was like talking about Shakespeare sonnets and like she didn't even realise that like none of them before sonnet 76 were even famous and so all her favourite sonnets were like SO cliched. And then you'll never guess what she said.

PS2: No way. What did she say?

PS1: She said, OMG you'll so laugh, she said "I've been trying to expand my knowledge of Shakespeare's prose".

Both laugh like asthmatic horses

PS2: She never did!!

PS1: She so did, I said to her, "Do you not mean Shakespeare's plays?" and she went SO red.

Well, I'm impressed by 'her' restraint, personally I'd have told you to piss off and stop being such a pedantic little shit. Clearly Oxford is rather different to the university I went to because Thursday night there was spent at a club woofing down as much cut price booze as humanly possible and morning conversation (which would have taken place in the early afternoon over a bacon butty) was not so much directed towards linguistic pedantry, more about who got off with who, whether your flatmate had been seen this morning or was still missing in action and whether you could be arsed getting dressed for a 4pm lecture. There was also another overheard conversation about Wordworth and how some person the daft bint had met at a bus stop had seen her reading her book of Wordworth's works and just bombarded her with like loads of like cliches about Wordsworth and it was like SO obvious she'd not read the book but to be honest it was very tedious and very pretentious and I can't be arsed writing it down. Eavesdropping on students during the day I can say that while they aren't all pretentious wankers like the cafe pair, they are ALL posh.

After breakfast we went to the Ashmolean Museum, which was fab and which yielded some great photos of odd objects that I'll put up later and then for a wander round the town. Getting home wasn't quite as stressful as getting in but a broken down train causing partial suspension of the Victoria Line service and a problem resulting in the cancellation of several circle line trains meant that it took a frigging eternity but all was made good in the evening by a visit to a lovely restaurant in West Dulwich called Porcini and lashings of wine.

Saturday was a very fun visit to Hampton Court Palace but for now I msut return to work so I'll write about that tomorrow!

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A letter to the Department of Health

 

 

Dear Department of Health, opposition parties and anyone else who has an unhealthy interest in what I consume,

I have sat in my office with the radio on since returning to work after the Christmas and New Year break and I am noticing a recurring theme on the news bulletins, namely that alcohol is about to bring about armageddon, the end of days and the fall of civilisation. Now it may just be that you're all trying to divert attention away from something truly bad, like the government being useless or the announcement that Big Brother will not in fact be ending this year but just in case it isn't and you all do actually believe the crap that you're coming out with, let me do you the courtesy of debunking a few of the myths that you seem to be clinging on to.

1) Alcohol automatically leads to antisocial behaviour – It doesn't. Now don't get me wrong, it CAN, we've all seen some stinking little scrote on the streets puking up 4 litres of Sambuca, or trying desperately to work out which one of the 4 people he can see in front of him is the real one so that he can lamp them. We've all seen the tramps on the park bench clinging on to a 2 litre bottle of cheap cider like it's a lifejacket. We've all seen the footage of the girls falling over drunk in the city centre and – end of days – flashing their hooters at passersby. But let me let you into a little secret – these people are a minority. I've been drinking since I was around 14 or so, that's now 16 years and the worst thing I ever achieved while truly out of my tree was to fall in the Lancaster Canal and have to be fished out by two charming young men from the Forestry Commission. Oh and I had a tendency to talk crap loudly and fall off my heels. Not exactly world shattering. I never ended up in hospital through my drinking and nor did I put anyone else there. This is something I have in common with virtually everyone I know. I still drink now, sometimes to excess and do you know what? I still don't start fights in kebab shops.

2) People in the UK drink too much because they are confused over the amount of alcohol in what they are drinking – I realise that our politicos think we all have the IQ of a cup of expresso but let's get this one shifted right away. We are not confused about the amount we're drinking and I'll tell you why. Because no matter what you write on the bottle of wine, be it units, centilitres, calorie content or the meaning of life, we don't take any bloody notice. Most of us measure our alcohol intake in a far simpler unit – number of glasses. If we feel particularly mellow after a couple of glasses we may glance at the alcohol percentage on the bottle to see if it's a particularly strong wine/ beer/ lager but that's not a common occurrence. So you can adopt new systems to make units clearer and bring in information about how many centilitres of pure alcohol are in the bottle and shall I tell you how much difference it will make to the drinking habits of those who like a glass of wine with dinner, 2 litres of cider on a park bench or their own body weight in Russian paint stripper round the back of the town hall after they've finished their maths homework? Or would you like to guess for yourself?

3) A tenth of the population are now classed as hazardous drinkers – Now I realise that this sounds like a bad one, it makes it sound as though we've suddenly turned from a nation of abstemious Methodists to the sort of people who'll happily swig the alcohol handgel in hospitals but this isn't the case is it? The reason 10% of us are now classed as hazardous drinkers is not that we've started drinking more, it's that you've moved the goalposts. Previously if you necked a bottle and a half of cheap pinot grigio, forgot your own name and got off with a bloke whose face could scare small children you were classed as a binge drinker. Now if you have two pints of reasonable strength lager or two large glasses of wine you're a binge drinker, even if you can still recite the alphabet backwards, spell 'antidisestablishmentarianism' and name every ruler of Britain since AD500. It's like if you classed 'pensioner' as anyone over 40, suddenly Britain would have a LOT of pensioners. Do you see? Bandying about statistics like that doesn't scare anyone when it's blatantly obvious that they're fudged.

4) What I choose to put into my body, as long as I'm not harming anyone, is any of your damned business - this is the biggie isn't it? I work full time, I pay tax, I don't hurt anyone and so do you know what? If I want to have a glass of wine in an evening a few nights a week and a brace of vodkas in the pub with my friends on a Friday night I can and I will and it has bugger all to do with you. The current obsession with ruling every aspect of our lives, from what we eat and drink to what we look at on the internet is out of control. If I am theoretically trusted by the state to drive, vote, buy a house, raise a child and bear arms in the name of my country then I would say I'm responsible enough to decide when I've had enough to drink and how much is bad for me without your interference. Why should I be assumed to be stupid and treated like a child because a few teenagers are still doing what teenagers have done for generations and getting pissed at a weekend? Let me tell you something that you mind find a complete revelation – the problem isn't the alcohol, the problem is the kids themselves. My generation got drunk as teens, my mother's generation did, even my grandmother's gave it a go and were there all these stories about teens beating people to death? Nope. Therefore logically the discipline problem that permeates everywhere else is the issue, not the booze. But that's much tougher to deal with isn't it? In fact you have no idea how to deal with that issue so you'll just concentrate on aiming for the easy target, alcohol.

In short, butt out all of you. Sure, make certain that kids are well educated about the effects, problems and addictive nature of alcohol, ensure that they know how to drink responsibly and safely but don't you dare treat me like a halfwit who is too stupid to judge what I put into my body. And if any of you are a little on the Rubenesque side then be afraid, be very afraid because you and I both know that they've finished with smokers, they've started on drinkers and you WILL be next….

 

 

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Tell them what you think….

Just inc ase anyone wanted to have their say on the proposals for a new system to deal with MPs expenses, here is a link to the Taxpayer's Alliance explanation of the new ideas, which includes a link to the public consultation survey:

http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/bettergovernment/2010/01/consult.html

It explains the proposals and then allows you to go to a page where you tick some boxes and can leave some comments AND if you're feeling brave, your name and email address. I filled all the little comment boxes to capacity and left my name so I'm probably now on some database for the subversively sarcastic or something. But if you can't be blunt on a survey then where can you and I stick by my assertion that they're like small kids in a sweetshop who without adult supervision will scoff everything in sight with no thought for the shopkeeper who has to pay for the stock. So go on people, have your say, fill yer boots!

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Stupidity in the snow

Today I would like to bestow three special stupidity awards in the seasonal category of 'snow related idiocy'.

1) To the woman on the min-roundabout on Ringley Road – It's a mini roundabout love, you don't have automatic right to just drive where you like. In case you were too stupid to understand the writing in the Highway Code I'll explain it to you very slowly and very clearly. When you get to the mini-roundabout, look to your right. If I am 20 feet away from you on the road, heading your way, you stop. What you most definately do not do is just blithely drive up the road on my left then turn, without even an indication and sail across the mini roundabout without bothering to turn your head and look what's coming. Contrary to the widely held belief in your area, driving a Mercedes does not give you automatic right of way at any junction and the likely outcome of such behaviour is a Peugeot shaped dent in the side of your car. Also, may I remind you that glaring and gesturing at the person who has just beeped you because you've nearly caused them to crash may well one day lead to you being dragged out of your car at the next set of traffic lights and beaten until you see sense. You have been warned, you pig ignorant bint.

2) To the couple outside Morrisons – I realise that waiting for a break in the traffic is annoying, really I do but there's one thing you need to understand: the stopping distance on several inches of compacted and frozen snow is up to ten times what it would be on an ordinary road. This means that your kamikaze leap in front of my vehicle was at best ill advised. at worst suicidally stupid. Shaking your head at me as I miss you by a cat's whisker is fine but you're forgetting two things, 1) that this is a road and if you step into into it in bad conditions I'm not going to be able to stop on a sixpence, even if I am only driving at 15mph and b) if you'd looked I HAD attempted to break. A closer examination of the situation would have revealed that although the car was going forward, the wheels were in fact not going round. So next time why don't you think a little more carefully because I'll be honest, I don't think it's worth you ruining the front of my car in order to get into the supermarket 10 seconds quicker than you would have done had you just let me go past and then crossed. Twats.

3) To the man who cleared his driveway on Sargeants Lane – It's annoying when there's snow on your driveway isn't it? It makes it difficult to move the car and there's a danger that you might skid on it and hit your garage doors. Having tried to clear ours yesterday, I know that it's really hard work and so to have cleared every last inch of yours must have taken a lot of time and energy, for that I commend you. I just have one teeny weeny issue with your little project and it is this – was it really the wisest idea to create two four foot walls of moved snow blocking the ENTIRE pavement on either side of the path that your car takes from driveway to road, you gormless numpty? For sheer snow related selfishness, this one deserves a gold medal because now, you can drive your car smoothly and without interference from your driveway onto the road but anyone wishing to walk up the pavement has to risk life and limb wandering into the middle of the icy road, as you have completely and utterly blocked the pavement. Anyone in a wheelchair or with a pushchair is frankly fucked. Bit of thought for someone other than yourself might not go amiss next time you self-centred pillock.

Given that Britain is still in the grip of the 'big freeze' I have no doubt that we'll see some more examples of snow related ridiculousness but on a positive note, may I say a massive well done to lads at the top of my parents' road who have built a 6ft snow igloo, complete with seat and England flag. Brilliant.

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My stats for the noughties

I've been absent for a week or so, thanks to my laptop wishing me a happy christmas by dying on its arse while my live-in computer fix-it man was in Inverness visiting his family, so apologies to anyone whose comments or posts I've not replied to/ written about. As I'm back at work now with quite literally bog all to do until the sites start generating some work for me I thought I'd have a look at some of my stats for the years 2000 – 2010.

Things Lost/ given away:

  • 3 grandparents, 1 sort of surrogate grandmother brought in replace one of the actual ones who was a cow, 1 great aunt and 1 great uncle. Blimey, there's been a bit of a cull in the family this past decade!
  • 2 boyfriends, one of whom was a nice guy but just not for me, one of whom was a complete twat that I can't believe I bothered with. Let me give you the benefit of my wisdom – never date anyone you met on a train, it didn't end well for me and it ended even less well for my cousin who married the nutjob she met on one. Now that's a long and bizarre story which also happened in my 'decade under review'!
  • 1 family dog, Barney, a hairy creature that moulted more than I ever believed a creature could without ending up bald. His ability to start a random fight with dogs much bigger than himself, leaving the owners clinging onto their beasts for dear life while I tried to drag the grouchy bundle of hair and teeth up the road by the scruff of the neck was awe-inspiring. I will also never forget the time he chased a chav down the road and over a fence for no better reason than that he had a rabid dislike of anyone in a beanie hat. Plus his attacks on the hoover never stopped being funny. He was put down last year after the tumour on his back began to affect his mobility and I'm sure that wherever he is he's having a great time starting fights with dogs 4 times his size and scoffing his own bodyweight in dog biscuits.
  • 1 job, when back in 2003 my dad fired me as an incentive for me to go out and find a proper job instead of flouncing about being the cook for the nursing home they own.
  • 3 cars – my first car, Cyril I, a silver Nissan Micra that was 12 years old when my parents bought it off my grandparents (as a way to stop them driving) and that ran like a dream until my then boyfriend Ben had been driving it for a while. After that you had to get up early if it was set to rain because you'd have to disconnect all the plugs and wipe them out with WD40. The RAC man was out to it so often that I got a christmas card off him. Nice chap. I loved that car. Also a ginger Peugeot 106 that coordinated beautifully with my ginger best friend and a harlot scarlet Ford Fiesta that ended up with my brother in London after a rather complicated swap involving my parents, my brother, a Peugeot 307 and a bank loan.
  • 1 friend/ flatmate who turned out to be a sociopathic slut who would offer my live in boyfriend sex while I was at work. He didn't take her up on it but it pissed me off none the less. Possibly it was not a good idea for me to attempt to have it out with her while fuelled up on cheap vodka but to be honest, she deserved every single one of the names I called her and I feel no guilt about aiming for her weak spots – popularity and looks. 
  • Umpteen thousands of pounds on pointless crap that I didn't need/ alcohol/ cigarettes/ clothes that I looked shocking in and shoes I couldn't walk in.
  • 7 guinea pigs. Shit, that sounds really bad when you write it down doesn't it? I swear I'm not some sort of psycho small furry critter killer.

Things found/ gained

  • 1 job. I've been here 7 years this march which is truly terrifying.
  • My 30s, and I don't want to even think about it, let alone talk about it.
  • 20 odd pairs of shoes / boots (conservative estimate). This decade I made the awesome discovery that is Duo, a company who makes boots in different calf widths, meaning finally I could have a pair of knee high boots that didn't look like wellies. A revelation, I'm sure you'll agree.
  • 1 dog – Geoffrey, who has featured in the blog before. He's a barmpot and as camp as christmas but everyone loves him.
  • 9 guinea pigs. 7 of which I have managed to dispatch to that great rabbit run in the sky, leaving me with 2 currently. Who, to the irritation of my other half are currently living in an indoor cage in the conservatory because it's minus 8 outside. "Of course they'll only be inside for a couple of days" I said 2 weeks ago. Smirk…
  • 6 second cousins, 3 of which were born to the same family. No family should have more than 2 kids, at least not if they expect me to remember all of their birthdays and buy them decent gifts at christmas.
  • 1 husband. We've been married for 4 years this year and that means that even if we were to divorce tomorrow we wouldn't have the worst marital record in my family, as two of my cousins only made it to the 2 year mark. Happy days.
  • 1 degree and 1 diploma. I am now a very highly qualified time waster, an achievement indeed.
  • Some wrinkles, the number of which I have not had the courage to count.
  • About two stone in weight, 1 of which I think I put on this christmas. I put my work trousers on this morning and decided, as I desperately struggled with the stupid button that either the mischief gnome had been in the wardrobe over the holidays and altered the dimensions of all my clothing or I needed to step away from the Terry's Chocolate Orange and head towards the salad. Sigh…
  • The ability to get from A to B without major injury. Only one this decade, a fractured kneecap, which was a vast improvement on the previous 2 decades when my inability to judge what was going on at the ends of my limbs led to me practically having my own dedicated seat in the A&E department. I think it might have been a family thing because my brother was also well known for his ability to fall over or into things as well.
  • A number of friends I'd lost touch with but in particular the lovely BGS girls who I went to school with and a girl who I went to primary school with and lived down the road from. I can't imagine now why we didn't all keep in touch, it seems ridiculous when we have such a good time.
  • A sister in law. Which is weird because that means my little brother is married. I realise that at 26, 6ft 4 or so he probably isn't that little but still….
  • Lots of lovely friends on Vox and even a few from back in the days when I started out online, on Diaryland!

So there we have it, my review of the decade, some things good, some things bad but on the whole I think I came out of it relateively unscathed….

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