25 October, 2009

Breakfast on the Bridge

I know, I know. It's been ages. But I'm here now.

Today is Sunday. Most normal people get up at a reasonable hour on Sunday. They open their eyes, smile at the sight of the alarm clock and promptly roll back over. They get up when they feel like it.

Today my alarm clock went off at 5am. I was out of the house at 05.28 and standing at the bus stop with a friend. It was time for http://www.breakfastonthebridge.com/ .

This was a first for Sydney and I'm sure it won't be the last. 6000 people got up at a ridiculous hour and carted picnics to Milsons Point train station. After queuing for a suprisingly short time in an unutterably long queue we rounded the corner and set foot on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

You've all seen it on the telly. Some of you have driven across it, walked over it and maybe even climbed it. But I bet none of you have taken off your shoes, put down a picnic rug and laid on your back on it like I did today.

It's a big bridge. It carries eight lanes of road traffic. It has two train lines, a footpath and a cycle lane. Today the road section was closed and turf was laid over a large section to allow NSW residents to have breakfast in style. The most entertaining thing for me was the milking cows which were eating hay and seemed oblivious to their surroundings.
The picnic was short but sweet. We settled down and unpacked our picnic at approximately 7am. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get my picture taken by the masses of photographers but to no avail. About half way through volunteers handed out baseball caps in yellow and green. I haven't seen an arial shot yet but I'm sure it'll be amazing.

We were asked to start packing up at 08.20. It felt like long enough, to be honest. I came away with a heavier bag than I arrived with due to obtaining a free loaf of bread, a small pot of yoghurt and a free canvas bag.

Getting off the bridge was incredibly easy. We walked onto it from the north end and walked off it to the south. This suited the group very well as we'd all crossed the bridge (a big thing in Sydney, let me tell you) to get to the picnic so getting home was a breeze.

I was home by 09.30 and asleep on the settee by 10.00. I awoke at midday to pouring rain, thunder and lightning. Perfect timing.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. And if you're in town next year you should do it too.

05 September, 2009

Star Trek and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Life has been a bit ordinary lately. One of my best friends has moved to New Zealand, the workplace is full of adult women who have regressed to the age of 14, I broke a dish which belonged to my late grandmother and I'm another year older. So it was with much excitement that I headed to the Sydney Opera House for a performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on Friday night.

I was trawling the internet on Thursday night when I remembered reading somewhere that the SSO were doing a performance of highlights from the Star Trek motion picture soundtracks. Google led me to the Opera House website where I discovered that the performance was the following evening. Surely it would be sold out? No. Just four tickets left. I hastily ordered myself a ticket - row A in the circle, almost smack bang in the middle. With booking fee the total cost was just over $106.00. I calculated it as just over 5 taxi rides home from work. Sold.

I was slightly apprehensive about going out on my own to such a fine venue on a Friday night, all Billy No Mates, until a friend pointed out that I would hardly be the only single attendee for a Star Trek event. Hrumph.

Anyway. I went. And it was Bloody Brilliant. Absolutely Bloody Brilliant.

The SSO were accompanied on stage by conductor Guy Noble. He kept us all entertained with his witty asides and by reading from his 'Captains Log'. I wasn't expecting him to be so communicative but I think he enjoyed the experience as much as the audience did.

A large screen was set up behind the orchestra and scenes from the various movies were shown with each piece of music.

The first half was non Trek stuff but still had a space theme. We started off with Sprach Zarathustra, the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey along with The Blue Danube from the same film. Next up was Holst's Mars from The Planets. I've always had a soft spot for Holst thanks to my old headmaster,Mr Windridge. He used to play classical music as we filed into assembly at primary school and make us think about what we were listening to. It was an awe inspiring experience listening to the same music over 30 years later on the other side of the planet. The main difference of course was the lack of record player and presence of a symphony orchestra.

Things really ramped up after the interval. Guy Noble reappeared in a classic Trek captains shirt, much to the delight of the audience. Clips from all eleven films appeared on the screen as the music filled the concert hall. There was a slight glitch when the wrong clip was shown for the wrong piece of music - just what it with the one with the whales anyway? - but it didn't detract from the sheer brilliance of the evening. The final piece came from the most recent Star Trek movie and the accompanying footage made me want to rush straight out and buy the DVD. I couldn't do that, of course. The shops were shut and it's not even out on DVD yet. But that's just detail.

I didn't fully appreciate the genius of Jerry Goldsmith until last night. Hearing the theme tune from the original movie - subsequently used as the theme for TNG - played by a full orchestra was a moment I will savour for a long time.

The seat next to me remained empty the entire night despite having been sold. Whoever had that ticket missed out on a truly magical night. As I walked out of the Opera House I looked up at the night sky and saw the full moon in all its glory. A perfect end to a wonderful night.

24 August, 2009

To my niece

My dear niece,

Tomorrow is your 21st birthday. You arrived three days before my own 21st birthday all those years ago. I'd selfishly wished for you to stay where you were for a few more days so that we could have been linked forever by our special day. I remember the day you were born, not quite as though it was yesterday but it certainly doesn't feel as though this many years have passed. Your mother had been in labour for over 24 hours before you finally arrived and the grapes I'd bought for her on the way to the hospital never made it to the delivery suite. You were small and quiet when I met you, so light I hardly felt I had anything in my arms. I cried when I held you because I loved you so completely. At the same time I missed my mother so much I thought my heart might explode with pain. You were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my entire life and to this day I have yet to experience that same feeling of pure joy.

You were the first baby in the family for many years. Everyone trooped up to the hospital to see you, hold you, marvel at your tiny fingers and toes. You were given your late grandmothers name for your middle name. Her father, your great grandfather, was quietly delighted. He died some six months after you were born and you were brought to the house after the funeral. I remember holding you and feeling sorry that you would never know him.

I left the country for the first time when you were two years old. I returned when you were three. You were still tiny, curly haired and serious looking. I fell in love with you all over again. I suppose if I'm honest you were a like a practice daughter for me, practice for a child it seems I'll never have. Family members commented on the resemblence and indeed photos of you at the age of three look similar to photos of me. Small, curly haired girls staring at the lens, a generation apart.

You were joined by a younger brother three years later and I would take you both out on day trips to all the usual places. You behaved on the Tube, did a small amount of pestering in shops and always seemed reluctant to go home.

I left again when you were almost ten. Your father drove me to the airport, I was surprised to see the whole family in the car. It was a difficult journey from Leytonstone to Heathrow. You were quiet in the car, I put it down to the fact that it was very early in the morning but when you cried at the airport I wanted to change my mind and stay with you. I didn't. I made the choice to change my life and move 12,000 miles away from all my friends and family.

Sometimes I regret that decision. Sometimes, but not often. Sometimes I wonder how things might have turned out if I'd taken that other job offer and stayed in sunny E11. But two years in Australia turned into a decade and in the time that I've been living here you and your brother have grown up and grown into people that I don't know. Is that my fault? I suppose so. You know I've tried to stay in touch, find out what you're doing, what you like, what you don't like, what you want to do with your life, what you had for dinner, what you bought at the shops last week. We made a few attempts but sadly we're left with what we have, which isn't a lot.

In the last couple of years our relationship has deteriorated to an all time low. I still don't understand why you felt the need to fall out with me over my changing my surname some two years before you were born. I explained that it was done to incorporate the surname of your late grandmother and your late great grandfather but you still interpreted it as being a slight on my father. Personally, I don't give a monkeys what you think about that subject. I'm still rankled at the way you addressed me thoughout the whole matter. I look back at the breathtakingly rude way you wrote to me - at me, it felt like - and the way that you rebuffed my attempts at acknowledging your feelings and extending the olive branch. Six months later and you deleted me as a Facebook friend. Whilst that seems such a small thing to some I saw it as a deliberate way of cutting me out of your life. I was saddened but not entirely surprised and had absolutely no desire to contact you to discuss it.

So, here we are. I'm just your fathers sister who lives in Australia. It's not the relationship I envisioned when you were put into my arms 21 years ago. We don't exchange emails or texts. I'm irrelevant to your life. That makes me sad but that's just the way things are. It's also made me examine the relationship I have with my own aunts and realise that I probably haven't been the niece they wanted either.

I wonder if you'll look back one day and wish things had been different. I wonder if you'll ever make an effort to get to know me for yourself instead of listening to various family members giving you their rather colourful opinions. I wonder if I'll still be there if you decide to do that.

Your birth remains one of the most amazing events of my life. I miss you. I wish you a long and happy life with many wonderful experiences.

Happy birthday, pet.

04 July, 2009

Father Time - the bastard.

I'm not as young as I used to be. I'm no longer blonde, I left school decades ago and I can't drink more than three and a half units of alcohol before calling it a night. It's not that bad in lots of ways but in other ways it's unbearable.

I'm not coping very well with the ageing process, it has to be said. I have more grey hair at my current age than my dear grandmother had at the age of 83. Hair dye keeps the Cruella De Ville-esque streak at the top of my head at bay but the lines around my eyes are growing deeper and it's safe to say that my thighs are not what they used to be.

I can cope with all that, though. What really bothers me is the relentless onslaught of AALE syndrome. Some of you may also be sufferers without knowing it. It creeps up gradually then attacks with terrifying speed. It saddens me to say it but I will have to submit soon. It's just a matter of time.

What do you mean, you've never heard of it? Surely you're familiar with Arms Aren't Long Enough Syndrome? You know, someone gives you something to read and you have to pull it out of their hands and away from your face. You wiggle it about a bit until you can focus properly. It worsens in restaurants and in poor light. It makes you look old. Really old. You consider getting glasses but the thing that puts you off is a different kind of vanity. Nothing to do with men never making passes at women in glasses (which apparently isn't true) but rather that you don't want to be the person who has to fish in her handbag to locate her spectacles before she can look at the wine list.

It's alright for short sighted people. They wear their glasses for most of the time. For them, it's not an age thing, it's a seeing thing. Some of you reading this right now are probably short sighted and wondering the hell I'm going on about. I don't blame you. You're not the ones who are struggling with the fact that your current personal space is expanding by the day just to allow you to focus on the person talking to you.

I'm fighting a losing battle, dear readers. It's just a matter of time before I have to drag myself to the opticians and get myself a pair of specs. I just hope I don't have to pick up a tartan shopping trolley on the way home.

22 June, 2009

Smelly carpets and South Australia

Three weeks. I really thought I would have had something of note to say by now.

I meant to post, I really did. I meant to but somehow I just didn't. I got in from work night after night, flopped in front of the TV, spent meaningless hours in front of the TV or wasting time on the internet and just didn't get round to it.

Anyway, I'm here now. Nothing of note to say, mind you. The most interesting thing to happen to me was last Wednesday when I got home from work to find the bedroom had been flooded due to some interesting drain activity in the bathroom. This event was further complicated by me being due to get on a 'plane less than 24 hours later to fly to Adelaide. The short version - I still got on the 'plane, a man came to clean the carpet on Friday then a plumber came afterwards and flooded the bathroom again. I arrived back on Sunday to an incredibly stinky carpet and a filthy bathroom floor. I'll be sleeping on the settee until the letting agent either arranges to clean the carpet again or rips it up and replaces it.

Adelaide was lovely. The mornings and evenings were freezing but inbetween times the sun was warm and the air was clear. I stayed with an old friend who has a house on the edge of the hills. We drank wine, ate chocolate, laughed a lot and talked about times when we were younger, sillier, braver and relatively responsibility free. Three and a half days later and I'm back to rainy Sydney with a rotten head cold, I'm living in a stinky flat and I'm in a job I can't stand.

Ho hum. Still, there's always tomorrow.

27 May, 2009


A serious post today.

Three of my workmates are currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Three different women, three different cancers. 'Sophia' is a young, vibrant, funny, intelligent, crazy, lovable, generous woman. She's also facing cancer for the second time in a year. Her only hope of a cure is a stem cell transplant. She has no siblings and only has a 25% chance of a match with a parent. That's bad news for most of us but even worse for Sophia as she only has one parent.

I can't tell you how devastated we all are for Sophia. Not that we've given up and I know she certainly hasn't. She now has to start the search for a compatible donor and hopefully start the life saving treatment which will give her back the full life she so richly deserves.

Why am I telling you all this? I want you to help Sophia and all the other Sophias out there who need to find that person who can save their life.

I can't help. I can't donate blood in Australia due to the threat of CJD so I can't be tested to see if I can help Sophia or anyone else for that matter.

Please give blood. Please ask about other ways to help. Please. You might be able to save someones life.






13 May, 2009

Live long and prosper

Two posts in one week. You lucky people.

Why I am bothering you again so soon? I don't know, really. Probably because I've annoyed everyone at work by talking about Star Trek and Doctor Who for the last three days so it's your turn.

So - Star Trek. Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about the plot. I would ask commenters to refrain from doing so at the moment as one of our regular readers is going tomorrow night and I don't want to spoil it for her.
What I will say is that I thought it was spectacularly good. I was a bit apprehensive but it grabbed me within the first ten minutes and I was there till the very end. I cried, I laughed, I jumped up and down in my seat, I clapped (quietly), I watched through my fingers, I laughed again, nodded approvingly and jumped up and down a bit more. I don't think that prior Trek knowledge is required but there are plenty of nods for the fans. I'm going to watch it again at the weekend.

I wasn't always a Star Trek fan. My older brother used to watch it but to be honest I found it all a bit boring. Star Trek (or TOS as it's known by the obsessives) always seemed quite sexist to me. Yes, there were a couple of women but they didn't really seem to do much. Uhura picked up signals via that massive earring and told the boys about them and they went to a strange planet, had a fight, won and came back. It didn't really grab me.

Star Trek - The Next Generation (yes, TNG) was more my cup of tea. Here was a Star Trek I liked, more equal, more cerebral, more interesting. Whilst the series hasn't stood the test of time it certainly had me hooked in the 90s. I loved Picard, had a strange crush on Worf and wanted to be an empath like Deanna Troi, even though I knew it wasn't possible. TNG gave us the irrepressible Q and the Borg, the most fearsome sci-fi enemy since the sinister plunger wielding pepperpots themselves.

Deep Space Nine was less than interesting to me, I never liked the idea of a fixed station and couldn't warm to the Bajorans, no matter how hard I tried. They had a silly way of clapping for starters. The Kardassians were just plain ugly and that Latinum loving Ferenghi was like a big eared toad. Worf was introduced as a regular and it picked up slightly but to be perfectly honest if they'd all been sucked into the wormhole I wouldn't have cared one iota.

Voyager. Finally, a captain I could relate to. Janeway tried diplomacy then theatened to blow any enemies to smithereens. Well, not always. But you knew she had it in her. We had the enigmatic Tuvok, so beautifully Vulcan in every way.I so desperately wanted them to get home safely even though I knew that would be the end of the story.

Enterprise. No. Sorry. I watched two episodes and that was two too many.

So here we are again in 2009 and a new Trek. The future is bright, people.

11 May, 2009

A walk down Memory Lane

I really do seem to have slacked off here lately, don't I? I have no particular excuse. Work is annoying as always, I still work with a collection of psychopaths and lazy fuckers. Still, nothing will change short term so I continue to mutter darkly under my breath and plot their demise using the power of thought alone. I'll let you know how it goes.

I was thinking the other day about my old school. I had a great time at school, not so much at my second secondary (tricky, that) school but all the others were great.

I remember watching a TV programme once where a man had been held hostage for a prolonged period. He said he used to pass the time by retracing the route he used to take when walking to school as a boy. I've never forgotten this and from time to time I find myself picking one of my schools (I went to five in total) and walking there in my mind.

The least interesting of these trips is the one to my favourite primary school which basically involved leaving home, turning left and walking past three other dwellings before walking through the school gates. That one was particularly handy.

I suppose the longest one was to my first secondary school. The walk took just over 40 minutes at a brisk pace and slightly longer in winter due to the snow. I doubt todays schoolchildren would be able to accomplish such a feat without stopping for Coke and a Mars Bar at least twice along the way or calling their mothers on their fancy mobile 'phones and whining that their legs ached. Alas, a lift in a warm car was not an option for me and so after a bowl of Ready Brek I would set off, hoping that my face would not freeze and fall off before reaching my destination.

I can remember every step of that walk. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and walk to school in my mind. I pass the houses, cross the main road, pass a corner shop, walk down the 'cut' till I get to the Rec ground and walk over an unispiring field before reaching another main road. I plod down the main road before turning into a smaller street and see the school gates in front of me.

I went to the anal retentive lengths of digging out my A-Z and looking at my school route. It can't cover more than a mile. And yet surprisingly after all these years I was pretty spot on with a path that I only followed for just under a year over 30 years ago.

I don't 'walk to school' very often but when I do it always makes me feel melancholy. Sometimes I wish I didn't live so far away.

04 May, 2009


I know, I know. I'm a slack tart.

I do have an idea for a post but I don't have the concentration span at present. Here's a joke instead. You need to read it out loud.


A chicken goes into a library and approaches the librarian.

"Book book?" he asks.

The librarian gives the chicken two books. The chicken leaves.

An hour later the chicken comes back into the library and puts the two books on the desk.

"Book book? Book book?" he asks.

The librarian gives the chicken four books. The chicken leaves.

An hour later the chicken comes back and puts the four books on the desk.

"Book book? Book book? Book book? he asks.

The librarian gives the chicken six books. The chicken leaves.

The librarian is understandingly curious about how the chicken is managing to read the books so quickly so he decides to follow the chicken and see what he's up to. He follows the chicken across the road - oh yes, I went there - and further along the road until the chicken reaches a pond. The librarian watches as the chicken places the books in front of a frog. The frog looks at each book and says,

"Read it. Read it."

Did you like it? You did, didn't you? You liked it. I knew you would.

15 April, 2009

Not happy

I'm not happy, readers. Not one little bit.

The Devil has been using my handbag for his own defaecation lately and it's about time it stopped. I've had three episodes of bad luck recently and I'm hoping I've seen the end of it.

Episode one involved a rather nasty infection which saw me ending up spending 20 hours in hospital attached to a drip and being pumped full of antibiotics. I got no sleep, the food was atrocious (not that I had an appetite) and I was well and truly out of my comfort zone. All better now, though.

Episode two centres around a bizarre pain in my left foot. Don't expect to see me appearing in my own autobiographical film any time soon. It's been so painful that I've had to have time off work as I can't fully weight bear without swearing like a navvy. A scan result showed peroneal tendonosis (chronic degeneration) as well as a ganglion. I'm having an injection under Xray next week.

Episode three is the most painful. Without going into too much detail I have been successfully sued by a previous tenant of my spacious abode in sunny Leytonstone. It's all to do with damage caused, a deposit not refunded and some new law which means that the slack tart who caused the damage got not only her deposit returned but over £2000 to go with it. Yes, that's three zeros. The agent managed to fit himself out in a Teflon suit and got off Scott free. Needless to say I'm in the process of changing agents as I type.

A more minor irritation happened when I inadvertently wiped a couple of ring tones from my mobile. These included my TARDIS and 'exterminate' tones. I am not happy. Not.

Anyhoo. Let's end on a high. I leave you with Bizkit, the sleeping dog. He makes me happy.

03 April, 2009

"So, what have you been up to?"

I received a message on Facebook the other day from 'Beth'. It asked if I was the SSS who'd worked at a particular hospital in the 80s and asked me to email her.

Beth and I were friends during our nurse training. She was the year behind me and lived in the same corridor in the nurses home. We talked about the usual things; crappy shifts, evil ward sisters, politics, the NHS and unreliable boyfriends. We drank hot chocolate and ate biscuits. Beth was a great friend during difficult times.

I met 'David' at a section house party on the Lea Bridge Road one alcohol fuelled evening in the late eighties. I had the hots for David's friend and he had the hots for one of my friends. Both relationships lasted all of five minutes and David and I continued to see each other as friends. It was a very easy friendship and nothing more.

One evening David came to see me but told me that he wasn't stopping, he was actually visiting someone else in the nurses home. It turned out that David and Beth had met at a party and hit it off. The relationship went well and finally they married. We kept in touch for a several years, they moved to Norfolk and I visited them there a few times. They moved house again, I didn't get a forwarding address, I made a couple of attempts at contact but failed. That was that.

About two years ago I received a friend request from David. He was still married to Beth and they still lived in Norfolk. I asked him about Beth and he said he'd tell her to contact me. She never did. He set his profile to private after about six months and he only reappeared a few months ago. And then last week I got the message from Beth.

What do you say? What can you possibly say when someone asks you to condense almost 20 years in an email?

'Well, I moved to Australia as you can see. I still work as a nurse. No husband, no kids. Forget what they say about those hunky Aussie males, nudge nudge, wink wink! I come back to the UK occasionally but not often. I'm still in contact with Anna but I no longer see Jane/Sarah/Natalie/Donna. Do you?

How are the kids? They must be so grown up now. Are you still nursing? What about David? Is he still with the police? Write soon and tell me all your news.'

Quite frankly, readers, I'd rather eat brussel sprouts with a cinammon topping than send that email. The very thought of it depresses me beyond words. And yet what do I do?

Naturally I'm curious about what she's been up to, how her life has changed, whether or not she's the same Beth who I used to walk round to the chip shop with after a late shift and discuss how much we hated our training. But where do we go after that first email? It'll just peter out and we'll be out of each others lives again.

I'll answer the email, of course. It'll go very much along the lines of the reply I outlined. I'll try to make it funny and interesting but that won't stop it from boiling down to 'still nursing, live in Australia, no not married and no kids.'

19 March, 2009

The children of Dunblane and the Express

I'm spitting about this one, really spitting. The British press have always been a shower of shitheads but they've sunk to an all time low.

Dunblane is a small town in Scotland. It has four primary schools and one secondary school. Most people had never heard of Dunblane until the morning of 13th of March 1996. That was the day that Thomas Hamilton, a 43 year old local man, walked into Dunblane Primary School and shot 16 children and their teacher dead before turning the gun on himself. The children were in the gymnasium. Some of them tried to run away. Some were injured. They were aged between 5 and 6 years old.

I still remember where I was when I heard the news. I cried that day for those children, their teacher, their friends and family. Thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. I can't begin to articulate how I felt and still do. Anniversaries have been and gone and I've wondered about the parents of the murdered children. I've also wondered about those who survived, hoping they've been able to get on with their lives after such unspeakable trauma.

Seems I'm not the only one who wondered. There's a shitstorm brewing over a venomous - and pointless - article which was published in the Sunday Express. The front page story alleged that survivors of the massacre had "shamed" the memory of their dead friends by boasting about drunken nights out on social networking websites.

Paula Murray, the Express hack in question, used the headline "Anniversary shame of Dunblane: internet boasts of sex, drink and violence as youngsters hit 18". The article was published on the 8th of March, one week before the anniversary. Its premise was that some of those who witnessed the massacre first-hand had "posted shocking blogs and photographs of themselves on the internet, 13 years after being sheltered from public view in the aftermath of the atrocity".

The main crime committed by these private citizens who had one suffered the trauma of being shot at whilst in their PE kit seemed to be that one of them - who had been injured in the massacre - making posts on a networking site, which it claimed showed them making "rude gestures" in pictures and boasting of "drunken nights out".

Well, fuck me. Teenagers acting like teenagers. Who'd have thought it? What did Paula Murray think they were going to do? Don sackcloth and ashes? Spend the rest of their lives in quiet contemplation? Stay home and cry every day?

The Express has since quietly withdrawn the story from its website but the cat is out of the bag and it's screaming its head off. Here's a link to an excellent piece by Graham Linehan, including a PDF of the original front page. Here's another cracking piece where a Blogger examines the personal life of the author of the pile of shit. There's also a Facebook group with over 3000 members.

Quite why someone thought it would be a good idea to publish a story about a group of eighteen year olds drinking alcohol, having sex and generally behaving like teenagers is beyond me. I would imagine that both Paula Murray and the editor of the Express will have plenty of time to reflect on whether it was worth invading the privacy of young people who had once feared for their lives at an age where the rest of us were worrying about whether or not our mothers had remembered to pick up our favourite comic from the newsagents.

17 March, 2009

Oh Happy Day

I have loved these women for years. Years and years. Female comedians in a mans industry and not only that but really, really funny female comedians. From their early work on The Comic Strip Presents to Girls on Top and then to their own series French and Saunders I watched with pride as they became high profile comedians up on the same level - if not higher - with some of the boys at the time. They were my favourites on Comic Relief. I remember watching the original sketch which was the inspiration for Absolutely Fabulous. I loved the Vicar of Dibley. I loved it all.

Now they've announced the end of their touring days and predictable tickets are rarer than hens teeth. I spent fruitless hours on the internet yesterday trying to get through but to no avail. Today I thought I'd give it one last go.

Guess who's got two tickets to see French and Saunders on the 1st of July at 8pm then?

12 March, 2009

Chocolate is an everyday food. Discuss.

A report of a most alarming nature caught my eye today. I don't mind telling you, dear readers, that I'm quite distraught. If Dr David Walker gets his way we're all doomed.

David Walker? Who's he? He's a Scottish GP who wants to bring misery to millions by taxing chocolate.

Oh yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. This white coated wowser wants to make us pay more for what is essentially an entire good group.

'Dr Walker, who is also a trained food scientist and nutritionist, told the BBC news website: "Obesity is a mushrooming problem. We are heading the same way as the United States.
"There is an explosion of obesity and the related medical conditions, like type 2 diabetes. I see chocolate as a major player in this, and I think a tax on products containing chocolate could make a real difference."

Difference to the tax coffers, yes. Does he really think anyone is going to think twice before buying that bag of Revels or that delicious Twix?

Not surprisingly the idea has ready met with some resistance.

'Julian Hunt, of the Food and Drink Federation, said: "Introducing regressive taxes on the foods that consumers love would result only in lighter wallets, not smaller waists - particularly as we already have to pay VAT on all our chocolate purchases. '

But don't panic. Dr Walker will be taking his proposal to a British Medical Assocation meeting in Scotland where it will be discussed then pushed to one side. I can't really see it going anywhere.

You might want to stock up at the weekend, though. Just in case.

05 March, 2009

Fast Food - It's an Emergency

Anyone here ever called 999? 000? 911? 112 (or whatever the European number is)?

I have. I called for the fire brigade once. I was just leaving the Alfred Hitchcock pub after having a couple of medicinal G&Ts and some cheese & onion crisps when I noticed what seemed to be a medium sized fire on the land straight opposite. Oooh, I thought, a real emergency. I dialled 999 and a very nice person answered, I told them what I needed to and they sent a nice, shiny fire engine. That was that.

So, what would make you call? A fire? A car accident? Someone having a heart attack? What about if the people at McDonalds took your money and wouldn't give it back?

That's exactly what this woman did. Twenty seven year old Florida resident Latreasa Goodman resorted to calling 911 when a transaction at her local McDonalds failed to go her way. Apparently the cashier took her order for chicken nuggets as well as her cash but refused to refund the money when the nuggets ran out, offering an alternative meal instead.

When told by the police that failure to obtain the junk food hit of her choice was not an emergency, the young chicken fan replied, "This is an emergency. If I would have known they didn't have McNuggets, I wouldn't have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don't want one. This is an emergency."

It wasn't the nuggets, it was the principle. "When you feel that you've been mistreated or misused or robbed out of your money, you have the right to call 911," Goodman opined. "That's the purpose of 911, so I thought."

Sometimes you just can't make it up. She's twenty seven years old and she's using the police in a way that an eight year old would use their mummy. I'm sure I'd be annoyed if the staff wouldn't give me a refund but I'd have to be either wildly hormonal or incredibly stoopid to call the emergency services to sort it out. Imagine the call.

"Help, I need an urgent response from the police. Ronald McDonald has got my $2.50 and he won't give it back. Send a SWAT team and maybe get them to stop by another McDonalds. I need me some chicken nuggets."

Apparently she's facing a fine for inappropriate use of the emergency services. She called 3 times. Three times. Must've been really hungry.

03 March, 2009

Just popping in

Sorry, everyone. I've been rather slack.

I don't have anything to say today, I was sort of formulating a post in my head today when I was walking along the beautiful coastline (had to get that in) but I don't have an ending.

I can't even post a LOLcat. My skills have all deserted me. I'll try and come up with something by the end of the week.

Anyway, how are the rest of you?

18 February, 2009

Normal service has been resumed

Back at work for three days and the urge to kill is at an all time peak. Oh yes. I'm back.

Monday wasn't too bad, almost pleasant. Tuesday started with a row of epic proportions with the departments biggest fuckwit. I ended up raising my voice to another human being at 2 minutes to 8 due to being subjected to a barrage of fuckwittage - details if I can be arsed later - which was compounded 2 minutes after that when I entered my department to be confronted by two people looking for something which should have been done during my holiday.

*Brief explanation needed - a new theatre was opened which had a drug safe installed. The safe has a key. Each theatre has two keys, one for the drug safe and one for a central cupboard which contains another drug. No one had obtained a key for the central cupboard in the last two weeks.*

I felt justified in blowing up at this point - what was it, two minutes past eight - at being asked about the whereabouts of a key that some fucker could have organised two weeks ago. Needless to say I put the key onto the key chain myself this very afternoon.

Tuesday just got worse, v busy and lots of people going on about another thing that should have been done during my holiday in December, if you don't mind. It's been dealt with today.

I was late for work this morning due to my own slackness but I was even later than I should have been as the next bus was late and came with a companion bus. To top off my distress I had to wait 35 - count them - 35 minutes before I could even get on a bus to get home. I walked in, turned the TV on to watch The Biggest Loser and promptly rang out for a pizza.

Still, on a positive note, tomorrow is Thursday. Nearly Friday. I can't wait.

12 February, 2009

Out of the darkness

It's been a difficult week here for Australians.

I'm sure you've all seen the news about the recent bushfires and the horrific loss of 181 lives. Thousands of people are homeless. Communities are broken. And yet in all of this darkness and misery there are rays of light.

$53 million dollars has been raised since Sunday to go towards helping those who suffered get back on their feet. Children have given their pocket money. Banks have chipped in, concerts have given their nights takings, sporting events have handed over their takings and team fees. Most supermarkets have collection boxes at the till and people are stuffing them with notes and small change. We've all forgotten about the economic crisis and we've focused on what matters. Each other.

And finally, more koalas. Sam nearly died but she was one of the lucky ones. She's safe and she's even found herself a boyfriend. The video shows her initial rescue. I defy you to watch the clip and not smile.

If you haven't already given, please do so if you can.

Red Cross

Bendigo Bank

Wildlife Victoria

Victorian Dog Rescue

Thanks to ms crankypants for the animal links.

09 February, 2009


Bloody typical. Here I am off on holiday and I find myself struck down with the lurgy.

It started innocently enough. A bit of a runny nose on Wednesday, sore throat on Thursday, swollen glands and continued sore throat on Friday, runny nose, sore throat and headache on Saturday, cough and general malaise on Saturday night to DETH by snot accompanied by a dry, sore persistent cough on Sunday morning.

I made an emergency 'cereal, milk and Sunday papers' call to a friend in the morning. She arrived within the hour and had thoughtfully included a packet of chocolate biscuits to the order which she thrust towards me at arms length. "You look terrible," she muttered as she ran towards her car.

I spent the morning alternating between shivering and sweating, blowing my nose and moaning softly with self pity. Later in the day I called a doctor friend and threw myself on her mercy. "You sound terrible," she said. "My daughter is upstairs in bed with the same thing. She's like death." She came with antibiotics* and delivered them with the same arms length approach. "It'll be about a week!" she called cheerily over her shoulder as I wobbled back towards the settee.

I think I've given off enough heat in the last 24 hours to power a small village. I've had litres of water from my little Tupperware drinking bottle. I've had more Paracetamol than I should have and the pain in my ears is driving me insane. I'm staying away from members of the public due to a) my infectious status b) my general patheticness and c) I'm breathing through my mouth and it makes me look stoopid.

I don't mind being sick. That's not to say that I like it but I recognise that illness is par for the course. What I do mind is being sick when I'm off on annual leave and particularly because my cousin and her husband are here from the UK and I'm stuck here filling up tissues and coughing like a consumptive.

I wasn't sick much when I was a kid but I have fond memories of being looked after. Clean sheets, boiled lemonade, jelly and evaporated milk and a cool hand on my brow. Fast forward 30 years and I'm putting my own sheets in the washing machine and have no one to boil my lemonade or make my favourite food. Bummer.

Oh well. I've got some chocolate biscuits and four Doctor Who box sets. I'm going to bed in clean sheets and I've got those nice tissues with aloe vera and eucalyptus in them. Things could be a lot worse. And I've taken the liberty of using this bout of lurgy to post gratuitous pictures of my favourite doctors. I'm sure they will assist with my recovery. I can dream, can't I?

*yes, I know, I shouldn't really be taking antibiotics but I want to get well as soon as possible and I haven't taken them for absolutely years. There. I've rationalised it all quite nicely.

06 February, 2009

Friday funnies

Just a little peace offering after not posting for ages. I got these in emails yesterday. Don't you just love his little furry face? They're out of synch in the post but you get the idea.
These are sentences allegedly typed by medical secretaries. I've heard a couple before but they're still funny. To me, anyway............

1. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
2. Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital.
3. Patient's medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
6. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.
7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
9. Discharge status:- Alive, but without my permission.
10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert, but forgetful.
11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
12. She is numb from her toes down.
13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
14. The skin was moist and dry.
15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.
19. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
20 Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
21. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
22. Skin: somewhat pale, but present.
23. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
24. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.
25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities
26. When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.
27. The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel andcrashed.
28. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
39. She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in earlyDecember.
30. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smith, who felt we should sit on the abdomen andI agree.
31. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock brokerinstead.
32. By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better.

04 February, 2009

Happy Holidays - again

Sorry, folks. I've been a bit slack with updates. What can I say? It's summer, it's hot, I'm not snowed in.........

Alright. That was a bit mean. So, what have I been up to? Not a lot. My return to work was a rude awakening, the first shift turned unexpectedly from 8 hours into 12 long hours of working non stop and resulted in very tired and aching legs . The following day two people were off sick, requiring some reprioritising and juggling. The third day was a blur and the fourth day found half the nursing staff in the pub at days end, myself being the first one in there. Which was nice.

I'm on holiday again now as one of my cousins is visiting the fair city of Sydney along with her husband. It's an excellent excuse to take more time off work to make myself 'available' for sightseeing and ad hoc tour guide duties. The weather has been perfect and they're enjoying themselves immensely. The three of us are off on a wine tasting trip tomorrow to the Hunter Valley with lunch being held at one of my favourite breweries. They do the best - and the only - alcoholic ginger beer I've ever tasted.

There was something I was going to go on about today but I wouldn't have a clue what it was. That's the thing about summertime. It turns me into a complete sloth. My moments of rage fade rapidly because I'm too hot to stay annoyed. A great loss to the blog, I feel but it's wonderful for my blood pressure.

I'll try and get annoyed by something soon, I promise.

23 January, 2009

Spare some change, guv?

I'm warning you all now that this post is a shameless plug for one of my favourite charities.

Children and animals, they're my weak spot. Show me an animal suffering and I'll weep like a baby. Show me a child suffering and I'll weep and get mad.

Plan International is a non religious charity which offers child sponsorship in developing countries. I'd heard of them some years ago but they came to prominence with the release of the film About Schmidt. Jack Nicholson's character sponsors a child in Tanzania and writes her bizarre, rambling letters. Being a cold, hard atheist I liked the idea of a secular charity and indeed Plan are able to work with children in some countries where religious charities have no access. Win win, I thought, and so I took the plunge.

I've been sponsoring a little girl called Nadia for some time now. Nadia is the youngest of three daughters and lives in a Bangladeshi village. She's never going to have the opportunities that I had and I can't think of many worse things than being a girl in a country where boys are seen as prized possessions.

I've never received begging letters from Plan asking for more money and I've only ever received two 'phone calls. One was a call welcoming me and thanking me for sponsoring Nadia. I waited for the person at the other end of the line to ask me for more money but they didn't. They just wanted to say thank you. I was incredibly touched.

The second call came last week. The man at the other end thanked me for my continued support and hesitated a bit. I knew what was coming. "I wouldn't ask," he said, "but do you think there's any chance you could take on another sponsorship? We've lost a lot of sponsors lately."

I told him that I would look into my finances and see if I can take on another child. I also told him that I would spread the word and ask my friends, family and workmates if they were interested. I'm also asking you, dear readers. If you can't help, ask a friend. I know money is tight for all of us this year but I hate to see a wonderful charity who never hassle me go short.

I hate to ask. I just don't like to think of all those children who don't have anyone to care. If any of you have a few spare bob - and it's really not that much - please think about sponsoring a child.

Thank you. Plug over.

19 January, 2009

Tony Hart RIP

Another childhood icon has shuffled off this mortal coil. Tony Hart has died at the age of 83 and the world is poorer for his passing.

As children most of the TV we watched was on the BBC. Not for us the trendy Magpie but programmes such as sensible but informative Blue Peter with its gentle tones, sticky back plastic and pets and the excellent Vision On with Tony Hart. It was a revolutionary show for its time because it was a show specifically for deaf children. There weren't that many shows in the seventies which featured a woman doing sign language at peak viewing time and I was transfixed. There was Pat Keysall, mime artists (including Sylvester McCoy) and artwork but more importantly there was Tony and his art.

A gentle and friendly soul, Tony worked his magic on the screen and his artwork held me spellbound. I was never much good in the art department, unco ordinated and with an attention span the size of a full stop, I could never make anything that even I found attractive but that didn't stop me watching Tony and wanting to try that little bit harder. Each week I would watch the gallery of childrens pictures flash past and wish that I could make something worthy of being shown on the screen. Sadly, my cackhanded attempts with string, glitter and glue were....well quite frankly they were crap but at least I had a go. Tony moved on from Vision On with Take Hart and we met Morph, his plasticine friend. Tony would talk to Morph and he would respond in an incomprehensible language but I knew what he was saying.

All over the internet people are talking about Tony and how he inspired them. There's an army of grown up children of the seventies who were as art challenged as me but who watched his shows and wanted to try harder. I think I may have said the same thing about Oliver Postgate last year but I hope Tony realised just what a huge impact he had on us all and how we loved him.

The picture in todays post is doing the rounds. It choked me up. Silly, isn't it? Bet I'm not the only one.

RIP, Tony. Thanks for everything.

17 January, 2009

Nothing to see here

Yes, I'm still here. This lengthy holiday is definately agreeing with me. I'm much less irritable - although I did have a shouting match a couple of weeks ago with a man who was beeping his horn at someone else but annoyed me in the process - and sleeping much better. I sleep past 7am and go to bed late because, well, because I can, really. As predicted I've done as little as possible and I still have a week to go. I've struggled with the crossword, had too many cups of coffee, made a couple of pathetic attempts at housework, read a couple of books, painted my nails, caught up with friends, gone to the cinema a couple of times and had a couple of very damp paddling sessions with a friends children. It's all been quite lovely.

I went to the zoo last week with another friend and her two daughters. It was incredibly hot, the children wanted to run between exhibits with no discernable plan or pattern and as a result we missed the seal show. Here's a couple of shots. The giraffes have the best view in Sydney. And who doesn't love koalas?

06 January, 2009

My morning walk

Ah, Sydney in the summertime. This is why I live where I do, readers. All of these shots were taken this morning when I went for a little stroll in the sunshine.
The most popular coastal walk in the Eastern Suburbs is the Bondi to Bronte. Some of you may have done this walk. It's a nice walk. It's very busy and you stand a high chance of being shoved out of the way by a fitness fanatic/serious exercise type who will hurtle past you with a sense of entitlement - don't you know only the serious exercise people have got the right to do the Bondi to Bronte - but yes, it's a lovely walk.

There's also the Bronte to Coogee walk which in my opinion is much nicer. It's also more challenging as there's more of the uphill stuff going on but it's also quieter as most of the 'serious exercise' types only do the Bondi to Bronte because that's the place to be seen. That suits the rest of us just fine. If you're really serious you can do the Coogee to Bondi walk with the added bonus of being able to fall into one of Bondi's many watering holes at the end of it.
There's also a more gentle walk which is ideal for those days when the temperature is 30 degrees and that's the walk I did this morning. It's probably only a couple of kilometres but the Coogee to Maroubra walk is very scenic. Quite flat but very nice. I did part of it this morning and here are the shots. The very first shot is Coogee beach.

Okay, so I'm no photographer but I think I've done a reasonable job with my mobile 'phone. I hope you like them.

04 January, 2009

And the winner is........

Matt Smith. A 26 year old from Northampton will be the 11th actor to play the 903 year old lonely Time Lord from Gallifrey. The news broke yesterday and the geek forums are in meltdown. And yes, I was on one of them just after 5am this morning.
Hmmm. My first impression is that he's a little young, in fact I'm old enough to be his mother (if I'd been one of those girls at school who took Sex Education way too far) but from what I've seen of his acting I think he'll do well. David Tennant is going to be hard act to follow.
Good luck, Matt. See you in 2010.

03 January, 2009

Update from Lazybones

And so this is Christmas, and what have you done, another year over.......oh, hang on, we've done that bit.

Well, here we are in 2009 and I am completely lacking in inspiration. My clothes are all tight, the floor needs Hoovering and I haven't left the house before 11am in the last fortnight. How is it? Blissful.

I'm not one of those people who make New Years resolutions, nor do I sit down and the start of the year and make a list of goals. I'm way too lazy for that. My sole contribution to personal organisation 2009 stylie has been to organise the massive pile of papers that had been growing on the kitchen table as well as going through a stack of DVDs in the vain hope of finding a couple of blank ones. This mammoth task occured today. By 3pm the place looked like a bomb had gone off in a recycling factory. I chose this time to try the pomegranate juice I'd bought the other day (it looked interesting) and watch some very bad TV. After an hour of procrastination I started again. I'm still not finished. There's a lot of stuff scattered across the floor but I'm loathe to pick it up because then I'll be reminded that the carpet needs Hoovering and I don't have the inclination to do that for at least a couple of days. There are bad things about living alone and there are good things. Not having to tidy up if you don't feel like it is a Very Good Thing.

In other news, marvellous news in the form of a knighthood for Terry Pratchett. Terry is one of my favourite authors and I like to see people I like getting nice things. It's as simple as that.

Secondly, I'm waiting for The Announcement. I've had some time to get used to the idea that David Tennant is going and I'm looking forward to finding out who will piloting the TARDIS in 2010. By the time most of you read this the announcement will have been made. I have absolutely no idea who it will be.

What else......not a lot, really. There's been nothing happening so there's nothing to say. Now if you'll excuse me I've got a sinkful of washing up to ignore.