Valentine’s Day Musings

Big smile for the camera

And so as Valentine’s Day hits us once again, like a chocolate covered truck smacking a wall and we contemplate going out with the other half for dinner, picking something off the restricted menu and amusing ourselves by giggling at the horribly awkward first and second date couples who’ve run out of conversation so are now getting drunk to fill the painful silences, I was thinking about relationships.

My teenage years did absolutely nothing to prepare me for long term relationships and love. I spent my early teenage years reading books. A LOT of books and the problem with that is that you come away with a ridiculous and unrealistic notion of what love is. In books love is found after some sort of long courtship, fraught with difficulties which the couple eventually overcomes and which leads them to happiness. It is not found after 8 vodka and cokes in a sweaty bar in the city centre. Nor is it found in the burger place you’re working in part time to earn some extra cash or at the taxi rank at 3am while clutching a kebab and a lit Marlboro Light. All true stories in case you were wondering. Not all mine I should add.

The male in books is not like the man you will meet in real life. In the books he is dedicated, gorgeous, heroic, altruistic and occasionally tongue tied in your presence. Juliet never had to give Romeo a bollocking for using the C word during the match, which can clearly be heard through the wall by next door’s small children. Mr Darcy never to my memory got plastered and threw up out of a taxi. I bet Robin Hood replaced the loo roll when he’d done and never just left the cardboard inner sat on the bathroom floor for Marian to deal with.

The other problem with learning about love through books is that they rarely, if ever, teach you what to do once you’ve found it. Most end with the couple getting together and setting off together for a life of unending bliss where the sun will always be shining, he will always take his turn to empty the dishwasher and he will never ever forget your anniversary or get your birthday wrong. They don’t teach you strategies for setting up a task rota and teaching your man that hoovering the carpets and putting the dirty pots in the dishwasher doesn’t constitute cleaning the entire house or for tackling the tricky issue of letting him know that the ‘bog-cleaning sprite’ is a myth. They don’t teach you that setting up house together when the pair of you have been used to doing things your own way since you were 16 can be a complete nightmare, that learning to compromise and take someone else’s point of view into account when deciding things can be decidedly painful and often very loud. No book I ever read offered a sensible suggestion as to how a couple should decide who is ‘couch commando’ in charge of the remote control. In books and films, once the love-struck couple have got together they spend all their time gazing lovingly at each other and wondering how they are going to survive the long hours at work until they can be back in each other’s arms. They do not spend half their day glaring at the computer and envisioning stabbing their other half in the arm with a form because he STILL hasn’t learned that when you take the bin bag out you have to put another one in and you didn’t notice and emptied a load of crap into the bin. Or smirking because he gets to stay in bed and take his time getting up while you have to be up and out at the crack of sparrows so you didn’t bother cleaning up the dog puke that you found on the hall carpet, you’ve left it for him to deal with when he gets up. 

Books don’t teach you how to deal with the arguments that will happen because you can no longer have your own way all the time and you’re far too used to it. Jane Eyre was never found in the living room in a rage about something insignificant, yelling like a deranged banshee and being entirely unreasonable.

But that’s real life, right there. The things he does that drive you insane, the things you do that make him want to strap you into an ejector seat and fire you three towns away. Books and films don’t do us any favours by leading us to expect 70 years of interrupted bliss and harmony, not only because it’s utter crap but also because if you think about it, how boring would that be? How would you appreciate the really good bits if you didn’t have have any lows to compare it with? Sure, Romeo and Juliet never had a row about whether ‘Location Location Location’ is boring or not but they also never hooted with laughter when the dog woke itself up by farting really loudly or when you went to work wearing odd shoes and didn’t realise until lunchtime. Mark Anthony may never have left grated cheese on the clean worktop but he also never went to the Co-Op and bought Cleopatra a Milky Way because she was pissed off about work. Literature’s great couples might never have fallen out because one of them forgot to buy the other an anniversary present but then they never learned to work together to find a compromise either. Because their love lives were perfect and that’s not real.

So whether your relationship is good or bad, whether you’re happy or not, I reckon we should all take time out on Valentine’s Day to think about love. Real love that is, the warts and all kind that we’ve all experienced, the one that means that sometimes you think your partner is fantastic, sometimes they drive you insane but at the end of the day you want to be with them even if they snore when they’re pissed. And let’s be realistic about this, Romeo might have been a charmer but he wasn’t over-burdened with a sense of humour was he? I bet he still rearranged his crown jewels when he thought no one was looking plus he was lusting after Juliet who was 13, which is more than a wee bit dodgy.  See? Your partner might drive you nuts sometimes but at least they aren’t a pervert. Surely that’s worth some flowers and a card?



Why is nothing to do with computers ever bloody well simple?

Why won't this bastard thing work?

Why won't this bastard thing work?


It should be simple. The concept is simple. I want to update the sat nav so that it stops bleeping at me for speed cameras that are no longer there and tells me about the new ones. So I assume that I can take the sat nav into work, connect it up to the work computer, download the TomTom software, update the little gadget and all will be good.


I plug the sat nav into to machine. No problems. I start to download the software. First issue – a message comes up informing me I need to install a ‘hotfix’ because if I don’t then my computer and sat nav may crash when I remove the cable. I don’t even know what a hotfix is. Now I don’t give a fiddler’s fuck if the computer crashes, it does it twice daily anyway so once more isn’t the end of the world but I do need the sat nav as I’ve got to attend some hideously dull ‘contractors safety forum’ somewhere in Warrington this afternoon. So I attempt to get the ‘hotfix’ using the link provided. Which takes me to some complicated techy Microsoft page that is full of stuff I don’t understand. But I do manage to gather the fact that you have to put your email adddress in and request this stupid hotfix. This results in an email sending me someplace else to download the bloody hotfix. It’s the technical equivalent of those godawful phonelines that send you from autmated message to automated message before cutting you off just at the point when you think you’re going to speak to an actual person. Anyway, I head to the home of the hotfix, which contains a slightly alarming message about how this fix isn’t tested properly or something and so must only be used for the specific purpose mentioned in technical message something or other. Whatever, if I break the computer the IT department will fix it. I click the link.

Which runs for a few minutes then comes up with some message about ‘am I sure I want to run this as the publisher cannot be verified and you should only run things from authors you trust’. ARGHHH! Well I’m not bloody sure now am I? I don’t trust any of you bastards because none of you speak in proper English and you probably all still live with your mothers at 38 and keep porn under the bed and body parts in the freezer. Or you do if you’re anything most of our IT department. All I want to do is find the new speed cameras and update the time on the sat nav, is that too much to ask, you swines? IS IT?

So I’ve given up until someone from the IT department arrives and can sort it for me. Bloody technology, why does it always manage to make me look like a twat?

Thinking of GOF….

I’d just like to ask everyone to send a little thought or prayer up for GOF, write of the ‘The Bucket’ and Mrs GOF. They’re currently slap bang in the path of the cyclone that’s about to hit Australia and are taking shelter in their house, having decided to stick it out rather than evacuate. So if everyone could keep their fingers crossed for them and the others in their region, that’d be just grand, ta.

Protected: Really really pissed off.

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