Just a quick post to thank everyone for all the good wishes - it is much appreciated!
Babygirl is home now; weighs 5lb 12 oz (2.6kg) and is currently working on growing a second chin. She's currently in her basket next to me, practising what sounds like the final cadenza of her very own Fart Concerto.
She's fractionally more decorous than The Boy though, who now lifts his arse cheeks, lets rip and then shouts " MY BUM" at the top of his voice. I don't know why - I definitely only taught him to say 'Pardon'. Anyway, I digress...
She's home, she's beautiful and I'm so grateful just to have her here that I don't even mind the sleepless nights so much this time round. It just feels so reassuringly normal.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Just a quick post to thank everyone for all the good wishes - it is much appreciated!
Thursday, 11 September 2008
BabyGirl - arrived on 29 August, 9 weeks too early, weighing just 3lb 11oz (1.68 kg).
She's doing well in the neonatal unit so far; but we do still have some way to go.
Blogging has been a lot of fun, but at the moment, real life has to come first.xx
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
We did it - managed to move house at 6 days' notice! The Boy and I spent 11 days living in a caravan whilst The Husband sorted out the very worst aspects of our new house and made it safe and somewhat less stinky.
It's a great space - decoratively speaking, everything in it has got to come out and be replaced, but that's long-term thinking. We're dealing with fag-ash riddled carpets and curtains and some very dodgy electrics and heating just now...
The Boy loves it - so much more space for streaking around stark naked after his bath, and playing in the garden - the neighbours are greeted every morning by his little voice saying 'Daddy get the dog poo...'.
Still, we're in, we're happy, and we're knackered. Normal service will resume as soon as I am not surrounded by cardboard boxes.
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Yes, I am still alive, have not dropped off the earth, or drowned in a sea of morning sickness (although I did come close on that one...)
I've been mostly running around swearing about estate agents, solicitors, house sellers and house buyers. This culminated in a phone call from our solicitors yesterday asking if we would like to move house on Monday. In 6 days time. We're not even exchanged contracts yet, never mind booked a removal firm or started packing...anyway, we said yes. It's insane, but it has to be done.
So, my life currently resembles the opening scene of Four Weddings and a Funeral - everyone running around saying 'fuck' a lot; although I'm just hoping that if my toddler repeats what he heard a few times yesterday, people will kindly pretend to believe that we were baking 'Fairycakes'
Will be back to rebuild this now sorry excuse for a blog at some point when the dust has settled.
In the meantime, I will be living in a caravan, reading a lot and trying to get some rest!
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
16 weeks pregnant now, and I've finally stopped being sick, am eating normally again, and generally feeling much better.
OK, so the week I just spent by beautiful Coniston Water in the Lake District probably helped - it's not all that far from where I grew up; I still get all misty-eyed at the sight of a good dry stone wall...
Whilst the holiday was great, it did sort out my views about some of the technology and gadgets we have grown used to in our 21st century everyday lives. I've reached an age now where I've become considerably less tolerant of new gadgets; if I've survived this long without one, then the chances are that I will happily continue to do so.
It's not that I'm a technophobe, far from it; just that I believe the maxim 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should' is particularly relevant where technology is concerned.
When I was younger and single, I owned a car that looked a lot like this. It was crap, but we had lots of fun together.
Preparation for a long journey involved the following essential tasks:
1. Throw my favourite music tapes in.
2. Spend 10 minutes looking at the map, write down all road numbers, junctions and directions on an index card, and prop up on dashboard.
3. Put map in car, just in case...
4. Pack and go.
Fast forward 8 years, forget about the nightmare which is packing to take a toddler away for a week, and we have the following scenario.
1. Husband spends 2 hours faffing about on iTunes and creating special journey playlists on the iPod, containing a random shuffle of fairly selected tracks from our favourite CDs.
2. Husband spends a further 2 hours programming a variety of journey routes into satellite navigation system.
3. Rest of packing completed by me, much swearing ensues...
Lets start with the iPod. Normally, I wouldn't be without it, but for a long car journey I'm prepared to make an exception. Trying to listen to my beautiful new birthday present CD of Carlos Mena singing Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus for the first time, on random shuffle, interspersed with songs by Porcupine Tree is well...try to imagine ripping out the pages from your favourite literary classic, throwing them in the air along with the same number of pages from something by John Grisham, and then trying to read the collected result.
If the literary analogy doesn't do it for you, then please imagine how it would feel to be offered a dish of your very favourite meal, personally cooked for you by Gordon Ramsay, and then told that you must eat it with a toothpick, washing down each mouthful with a shot of vinegar, and you're somewhere close. Ipod, I say No.
And then there's the SatNav/GPS/bossy little box that sits on your dashboard and directs you to your destination. Those things irritate the hell out of me. Maybe it's just a man thing, but why on earth is it necessary to have the thing switched on, giving you orders and bleeping away at you for the entirety of a 300 mile journey, when it's only the last 25 miles that you don't already know!
Madam Bossy Boots SatNav does have one or two slight advantages over the old 'wife with a map' routine. She doesn't get carsick after about three minutes of looking at her map, and she doesn't shout at the driver. Originally, I thought that her presence would reduce the number of car rows we had, but now we just argue about whether or not she is going to get us home, or deposit us, cackling with spite, on top of some godforsaken fell, populated only by a herd of large and extremely self-assured sheep.
At least my eyes can tell the difference between a road and a bridleway, without recourse to a map. Of course by this point we were so thoroughly lost as to be unable to locate ourselves on the perfectly good paper map that I will be sticking with from now on.
I can't help it - I'm just an old-fashioned girl. Technology has its rightful place in our lives, but a holiday in the back of beyond isn't one of them.
In other news - we are quickly moving towards exchanging contracts on the new house (please keep everything crossed for us) and our vet says that the dog is too fat and has to lose 2 kilos. I'm actually quite embarrassed by that last one.
Monday, 28 April 2008
There's a reason I've been off the blogs recently.
Same reason I've been off my food and drink too. The reason I've been spending my mornings throwing up down the loo, and my lunch break whilst the boy sleeps sitting on my backside with a nice cup of tea instead of catching up with what is happening in Blogworld.
Baby number 2 is making its presence known.
Some women, like the one shown, look and feel great during pregnancy. The hormones give them a healthy glow, they feel empowered and fincredibly feminine, and they only get bigger in the place generally known as the bump. In short, they just bloom.
I am not one of these lucky women.
When I am pregnant, I feel like this...
...which is why there may now be a short interlude.
I'm 13 weeks at the moment - apparently, and from what I remember from last time, I can expect to start feeling a bit better at some point in the next two or three weeks.
I will back at such a point; however, in the interests of quality control, it's probably best if I leave my blog alone for now. I am a hormonally addled cranky old witch, and am only likely to post acerbic rants which I might regret later on.
Mind you, last time around I was still shouting at strangers and threatening to piss on their feet at 7 months...
We will have to see how it goes.
Wish me luck!
Posted by Melissaria at 19:23
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
It's been a while since I saw an ad that made me go all Gordon Ramsay - swearing and cursing at the screen, howling with derision at the idiots who produced it and the even bigger idiots who will doubtless be influenced by it. But this one left me temporarily speechless.
It's for a new 'Super Premium' sexed-up range of fabric conditioner, by Procter and Gamble, marketed under their familiar Lenor brand. The product steps right away from the usual Spring Meadow Summer Fresh type of fragrance that we're all used to, and brings out the dark sensuousness of wash day with delights such as Black Diamond & Lotus Flower, Ruby Jasmine, Amethyst Rose and Sapphire Violet.
Leaving aside the fact that three of those names sound like something that a Spice Girl might name their baby daughter - if the advert is to be believed, using these products will turn us all into irresistable, seductive temptresses, to be found dressed in slinky black nightgowns and writhing in orgasmic frenzy on our clean sheets.
P&G are very proud of their innovation. Their Trade Communications Manager, Paul Lettice would like us to know that
"We are confident the launch of Lenor Infusions will help to make the task of washing a more glamorous, invigorating experience for consumers with the 'infusion' of premium fragrances and sumptuous softness of Lenor.
In answering consumer demands for environmentally friendly products, the Infusions range not only invigorates and softens clothes to the highest Lenor standards, but is also more sustainable, using up to 70% less packaging per wash when compared to regular Lenor, which in turn means fewer lorry loads on the road. Lenor Infusions is a great opportunity for retailers to boost their laundry profits and drive incremental value.”
Oh fuck off.
Only the most deluded corporate bullshit merchant could contrive to weave a sentence which runs seamlessly from 'the task of washing' to 'a more glamorous, invigorating experience'. I note that he is also a man, but I'm not going any further with that one - draw your own conclusions.
As far as I can ascertain, the only way you could possibly combine those two wildly disparate concepts is to dress up in your best lingerie, set the washing machine to spin and...
...but as this isn't that sort of blog, I'd suggest coming to one's own conclusions with that one too.
This is a laundry product. There is nothing glamorous about laundry. Unless P&G can come up with a product which transports me to a place where I get to share a hot tub on my own terms with 5 inhabitants of my choosing from the Lost island, after they've actually done my laundry for me, I will not allow any further talk of washing and sensuousness.
And if you're likely to find yourself swayed by the environmental credentials of this product, please don't. Go out and buy some Dryer Balls instead. If you don't believe in tumble drying, I suspect they could also double up as a serviceable sex toy.
Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. And all that.
Thursday, 17 April 2008
Whilst we're on the subject of minority instruments and those who play them...
The Husband is a big fan of Jean Michel Jarre. I don't really understand why, something to do with innovation, and being the first to bring certain electronic sounds and instruments into the mainstream, that sort of thing. Not my cup of tea, but it keeps him happy.
He recently forked out £75 to hear Jarre play live at the Royal Albert Hall, and was sadly disappointed to find out that the Grand Master of popular electronic music is, in fact, completely rubbish when it comes to live performance.
One of the innovative electronic instruments that he uses on his albums is the theremin. This is a bizarre, antenna-based instrument, invented in the early twentieth century. I can't explain how it works, because I don't do physics, but to cut a long story short, the performer stands between two antennae, and waves their hands around in the air to create the music.
The Husband had been looking forward to seeing one played live. You don't see them around much, unless you're seriously into avant-garde music.
I suspect that when he sees this, he will agree that he might have been better off saving his money, and spending the evening on YouTube instead.
I have been very ill all week with a flu-like thing which just won't go away. There are some areas of life where my approach tends to be much more masculine than one might expect. Shopping for clothes is one of them. Interest in celebrities and the details of their lives is another.
Having a bad cold is probably the finest. It's been 8 days and I'm still a rancid bag of snot and misery. I'm already reduced to posting videos of cats being amusing instead of real bloggage. If I'm not better by the middle of next week, then I'll have no option but to post a picture of my arse.
Wish me well, for all our sakes...
Friday, 11 April 2008
No, I don't need a male harpist right now, but this article about music and gender in today's Times got me thinking about the many stereotypes linked to the various musical instruments, and why things should still be this way.
In many respects, it makes very little sense. Children begin musical instruments at a young age, and an 8 year old girl is just as physically capable of learning to blow a tuba as an 8 year old boy, so why would she 'naturally' prefer something dainty like a flute? And what is it about the piano that has made it so universally gender neutral - actually I know the answer to that one; it's just so bloody useful for any musician, especially if you want to teach.
There are plenty of other stereotypes of course. Every music student knows that violinists are highly strung and neurotic. Oboe players are all a bit slutty and given to bragging about the blow jobs they give, whereas flautists often look like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, but underneath, they are even dirtier than the oboists. Finally, if you want to be one of the first with a pint of beer in your hand as soon the conductor's taken his final bow, you'd better place your order with a member of the brass section..
Viola players are universally ridiculed, I don't know why. Conductors are like Marmite, you either adore them or loathe them. Sometimes all at once.
Any girl can sing in a choir, but if you're a boy then you'd better be very posh indeed. There are no hoodies in King's College Chapel Choir, you know.
Organists are a law unto themselves, often just fractionally less weird than piano tuners, who are always men and sometimes blind.
I think it's fair to say that I've known - or known of - musicians of both genders for almost every instrument. The problem with minority instruments is that they are often very large - think tuba, bassoon, double bass, harp - and I can completely understand why parents haven't liked the idea of a girl old enough to walk to school on her own having to carry a heavy instrument that might not have been such a problem for a boy. I wonder if that will change now that kids tend to be driven everywhere?
But this is where my speculation falls apart. Harps are huge and incredibly heavy. Yet men just don't play them. Is it a skirt issue? All that flapping away on those pedals can really only be beautifully hidden by a long, flowing skirt. This is how really good harpists manage to look so serene - I promise you, they really are paddling away hell for leather under all those layers of silk...perhaps a bloke in trousers doing it would spoil the illusion? Who knows.
And before anyone jumps on me with this delightful example from the Jameson's Whiskey ad - sorry, but the harpist is miming. His name is Conny Bloom, and he is really a guitarist with a band called Hanoi Rocks. He can't play the harp. Nice ad though...and that is rare praise indeed from an ad-hater like me!
My boy is yet to choose his instrument, if he wants to, of course. The Husband dismisses out of hand the idea of him choosing a violin or flute; he wants him to learn keyboards or guitar. I'm very broad-minded on the subject, and will be working hard to make sure that the choice is a free one, and not unduly influenced by Daddy's stereotyping. At the moment, he has the temperament for a clarinet or bassoon - laid back, unassuming, won't throw a tantrum if someone else takes the best toys...
Just as long as he stays away from all those slutty oboists.
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
So far, we've had two couples who adored the house and wanted to buy it, but couldn't or wouldn't stretch to the asking price. One of them was practically spreadeagled across the breakfast bar, licking it with delight, so I did feel a bit guilty to disappoint, but still...we'll get there in the end. Let it be a lesson to all estate agents that if buyers are going to concoct stories to try and get a discount, they'll need to be rather more intelligent than the ones we've heard so far.
In the meantime, it seems that The Boy and The Husband have got me worked out rather better than I thought. Mooching around the kitchen the other day, I spotted an open packet of my little boy's snack du jour - Pom Bears. 'I'll just have one', I lied to myself. As I slipped my hand in, I felt something soft, dry, and not at all like a teddy-bear-shaped potato crisp.
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
It's recently been brought to my attention that a mother from Ashland, Kentucky has had her knickers in a twist over a packet of fun-shaped straws that she bought for her three-year-old girl.
Monday, 17 March 2008
Poor Mrs Spitzer. Yet another casualty of the Curse of the High-Profile Politician. Hillary Clinton, Norma Major, Pauline Prescott, Judith Mellor - and now Silda Spitzer takes her sorry place in the line-up of the Betrayed Political Wives.
The element of these scandals that I find most excruciating is the inevitable press call where the devoted wife is hauled out alongside her philandering spouse to take her share in his humilliating exposure. Normally she stands by his side and stays quiet, looking respectably upset while he expresses his 'deep regret at the pain I have caused to my wife and family'. Deep regret he got caught, more like.
Why do they do it? I'm sure the reasons are plentiful and complex, and I'm not about to attempt to discuss them here. But I've got an alternative scenario. And I'll vote for any woman who does it, should she subsequently decide that she wants to be Prime Minister.
At the first question from the first journalist, the long-suffering wife steps forward, takes the microphone and makes the following statement.
'Stand by this arsehole? I'd rather stand by a pile of horse shit. I'm only surprised that the ugly bastard managed to find anyone deranged enough to have sex with him in the first place. $5,000? She must have been charging by the 'indaequate fumble'. Thank you all very much for your time, I'm off to make a start on that divorce settlement. Has anyone got the number of Heather Mills' lawyer?'
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
On Sunday, my little boy discovered such a toy at our friend's house. Their little girl has an Early Learning Centre Sizzlin' Kitchen. It was the kettle that did it. Not only did it have a little red light - he loves lights - it was very shiny, and made all sorts of entertaining bubbling, boiling and pouring noises. He was quiet for about 2 hours. It was bliss.
'OK, bad example...although I bet you wouldn't say that to his face. Honestly though - you know as well as I do that the ability to cook is a very attractive quality in a man. You love to cook, and you're better at it than I am.'
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
I should be quite the expert at moving house, all things considered.
I have done it 7 times in the past twelve years, with an average of one move every 13 months. So you would have thought I'd have got the hang of it by now.
This is sadly not the case, despite my ability to segue seamlessly into White Van Man behaviour the second I've finished loading and handed the keys over. Mind you, The Husband doesn't like that sort of thing, so we hire people now...
It's been very tedious - I've been colour coding the local A-Z according to school catchment areas, making viewing appointments and graciously explaining to estate agents that 'a good-sized family home - it must be child-safe, but I don't care how minging the decor is.' does not mean 'Please show me every tiny cubby hole on your books that's been cheaply done over by someone with a tragic fondness for property porn and overblown hopes of a huge profit. You dirty, thieving bastards.
Other people's houses are fascinating. Apart from the voyeuristic pleasure of having a peep behind someone else's curtains, I always come away feeling greatly relieved that other people do not necessarily have cleaner, tidier houses, an innate feel for exquisite interior design, more expensive furniture, well-kept gardens and lifestyles straight out of the glossy pages of Good Housekeeping magazine. It makes me feel quite adequate, which is always A Good Thing.
Other people's houses can also be very odd. Why, for example, would Mr & Mrs H at number 54 choose to have an en-suite shower room and king-sized bed taking up so much space in their tiny master bedroom that they need to keep their wardrobes in the next room? And what's with Mr & Mrs P at nunber 45 - don't they know that if you smoke a pipe and allow your cats to spray your furniture liberally with Eau de Tom, you should at least consider trying to disguise the smell on viewing days?
From the other side of the fence, I would also like to apologise to Mrs ? at number 42 - my little boy had just had a very long and boring morning looking around number 44, and he never normally does that in the street.
And so it begins. Wish me luck - this project is going to be taking up a lot of my time in the coming weeks, and my attempts to be light-hearted and amusing about it here will be my lifeline to sanity. The last move saw me hiding in the hole where the fridge used to be, rocking backwards and forwards with my head between my knees, as the spotty teenaged removal men bounced my piano down the stairs. It still hasn't recovered.
Perhaps this solution might be the best bet, although if our local removal firms can't manage a small, upright piano, I don't fancy our chances of getting away with it...
Courtesy of boeke&maverickapollo @ flickr
Thursday, 28 February 2008
As I was getting ready to go out this morning, I couldn't help but notice three large, scruffy and unattractive dark-haired women on my street. They stood out because it's not that kind of street. My street is full of women who insist on being blonde, trendy and tanned, regardless of whether or not these things a) are natural or b) constitute a good look for them. If there's a non-blonde scruffbag about, the chances are that it's me.
Anyway, I assumed that they were just out leafleting, or collecting catalogues, and thought no more of it. When I opened my door to go to the car though, I saw a similar looking lady having a good look in my next door neighbour's letter box. She definitely didn't put anything in there, just had a nosey around and moved on. This was even odder, especially as there had been no leaflet or catalogue pushed through my letterbox today.
As I drove around the corner, I saw yet another one, sporting more huge gold hoop earrings than is generally considered acceptable, even around here. By that point, there was only one conclusion in my mind - the pikeys were in the area, having a nosey around and looking for stuff to steal.
This gave me a bit of a dilemma, and no small amount of soul-searching. Which would be worse - to alert the police and risk being completely wrong and exposed as an appalling snob of the highest order? Or not to tell anyone, and feel awful if I later found out that a neighbour had been burgled or had their car stolen?
Were the women really just leafleting - was the second lady just perhaps a supervisor checking up on whether the leafleting had been done properly? Was I simply reflecting the local obssession with the (alleged) thieving antics of our neighbouring community of Irish Travellers?
Am I an appalling snob of the highest order? Has the unthinkable happened, and I have become a tedious, middle-class curtain-twitcher?
What would I even say to the police? 'Excuse me officer, but there are some fat, ugly women on my street, wearing far too much hideous gold jewellery'?
It's hardly an attractive sentiment, is it?
Still, the Community Support Officers have been round, and all is quiet at the moment. Perhaps next time, I'll just call the Fashion Police instead.
What would you have done?
Monday, 25 February 2008
I am sorry to inform that you that I am currently addled with both hormonal nonsense and chronic insomnia. And as a result, I can barely string a sentence together, and I've got nothing for you. Nothing.
However, the thoroughly lovely Gypsy recently stumbled across a fine example of the 'Vitriolic Open Letter' genre that I am so very fond of myself. It's old, but I've never seen it before, and as a quick bit of Googling revealed that the lady in question, Wendi Aarons is a Blogspot blogger herself, it seemed appropriate to give it some more publicity. I laughed my tits off...she is hilarious.
An Open Letter to James Thatcher, Brand Manager, Proctor and Gamble
Dear Mr. Thatcher,
I have been a loyal user of your Always maxi pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core™ or Dri-Weave™ absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.
Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from "the curse"? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my "time of the month" is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call "an inbred hillbilly with knife skills." Isn't the human body amazing?
As brand manager in the feminine-hygiene division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from Aunt Flo. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy! The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in capri pants. Which brings me to the reason for my letter.
Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: "Have a Happy Period."
Are you fucking kidding me?
What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness—actual smiling, laughing happiness—is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything "happy" about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlúa and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreens armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory. For the love of God, pull your head out, man. If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like "Put Down the Hammer" or "Vehicular Manslaughter Is Wrong"? Or are you just picking on us?
Sir, please inform your accounting department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flexi-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Some lovely bloggers have come up with a great idea.
Peach from Peach, Sarah from He Loves Me Not, Ariel from From Fuck Up To Fab, Ms R from Woman of Experience and Vi from Village Secrets) are putting together a book for WARCHILD written by bloggers. They would like you to submit a written piece about something you’ve been through from any aspect of your life that you want to share, to email@example.com
It can literally be about anything: your relationships, your past, a road not taken, being a parent, an illness or your regrets etc. They’ve called it “You’re Not The Only One” to reflect the camaraderie of blogging.
There are a few simple rules, and these are as follows:
- You must be a blogger with a live blog.
- It must be about something you’ve been through, amusing or serious or any style you like.
- You can submit in your blogname and remain anonymous, or not, up to you.
- It can’t be something previously published outside the blogworld, but anything from your blog, or something entirely new, is fine.
- Try to keep below 1500 words.
- You must pimp the book on your site and buy it if you make a submission to be in it!
- DEADLINE IS 29th FEBRUARY 2008 for submissions.
- Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Proceeds will go to WARCHILD and the book will be published through http://www.lulu.com/. This is a no upfront fee internet publishing site who will take £4.70 per book sold if it is no longer than 200 pages. The book is to be priced at £9 so £4.30 will go to straight to the charity.
For further details, the original post can be found here.
Given that the bestseller list is currently packed out with misery memoirs, I'm hoping you're all going to buck the trend by submitting something very amusing indeed.
Consider the book well and truly pimped...
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Dear Dr Eric Holzle-Egg-Head,
I have read about your new DNA-based dating agency Scientific Match with interest, amusement, and no small degree of frustration.
A dating agency that uses swabs of cheek spit to analyse a customer's DNA, working to a theory that we are inclined to sniff out mates whose immune system's genes are different from our own? An easy target, surely?
A whole week later, I am forced to admit defeat.
I am almost entirely unable to write a reasoned piece showing exactly why your methods are insidious pseudo-scientific bollocks, designed to create maximum profits from minimal evidence. And believe me, I have tried.
Even my learned scientist friend, MadCow Ph.D. - who, I swear, knows everything - couldn't take it apart. She informed me that 'It is true that there may be something in the "smell" thing', although she did add 'I think you need to be in the same room'. She also muttered something about being 'a great way to meet some real wankers', but we digress...
Let's have a look at the packaging though.
You're quite open about the fact that you are not a chemist by education or training. You are, in fact, an engineer. You don't say what type, but you clearly know what people think about dating engineers. I've been down that road before now, and believe me, you are quite right to take the first shot at that one.
Let's be frank, it's a much quoted truism in university engineering departments and engineering firms - I've worked in both, never, ever again - that even clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste. Unless you're pitching for commerical business, in which case, your secretary will be required to dress you before you leave the building.
And let's not forget the engineers' classical view of the physical differences between men and women.
And you want us to give you $2,000 to solve our dating issues?
Still, in my experience, engineers are generally quite bright in their own, unique way, so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt on that one too.
I'm intrigued by the idea that women have better orgasms when properly matched to a DNA-compatible partner. How do you test for this, exactly?
When I lived in Cambridge, I used to earn myself some extra cash by pimping myself out to postgraduate research students as a guinea pig for their experiments - at £10 a go, it was reasonably lucrative, cash-in-hand evening work.
None of them ever asked me to submit some cheek spit, have sex with a number of men of their choosing, and then rate the quality of the orgasms - several times, of course, to control for the fact that scientific results must be consistent and repeatable. Still, there's only so far £10 will go, even for a poorly-paid music graduate from the wrong side of the town/gown divide.
I'd also challenge the hypothesis that DNA-matching will return a compatibility with 20% - 30% of the population. I've been to parties and bars where well over 100 people have been present, and have failed to find even one that I'd have taken home, never mind 20 - 30. Perhaps I just went to the wrong parties. Oh hang on, I used to spend too much time around engineers...
It seems that the rest of the $2,000 life membership fee goes towards personality profiling, just like any other dating agency.
Given that a high proportion of the population seem to believe in their compatibility with 2 or 3 particular star signs, you could also look at starting your own astrological dating agency - the odds of success appear to be reasonably similar.
Alternatively, heading towards the shallower end of the gene pool, how about an agency where all the women are young, slim and attractive, all the men are rich, and no-one's IQ is over 105? That should definitely work...particularly in some areas, like our very own Canvey Island, where, if the rumours are true, finding many examples of differing DNA may prove to be more of a challenge than you originally bargained for.
I've got to ask though - if the service is so effective, why on earth would anyone be needing a life membership? If it's that good, I would have thought that if you're not happily married, and enjoying the best orgasms you've ever had within 6 months, nothing short of a full refund should be in order?
Still, in all my years of opinionated carping and bitching about marketing and advertising-related bollocks, this is possibly the best wheeze I've ever seen. I'm a huge fan of true entrepreneurship, and you have spotted and seized a niche market and garnered a remarkable amount of positive publicity in a very short space of time.
Very well done, sir. A+, A* - or whatever it is you get for being a smart arse these days...to you.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
I had just got my Valentine's Day rant perfectly planned out, when Charlie Brooker went and wrote this, which, whilst brilliant, has made me feel hopelessly inadequate in the area of vitriolic invective. So, I had to rethink, and this is what you get at short notice...
I firmly believe that much of our day-to-day malcontentment is caused by a gap between expectations and reality. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our approach to Valentine's Day.
If you are single, then the whole thing is unbearably awful, for obvious reasons. You just want to go about your everyday business, yet every conceivable shop plasters itself with hearts and teddies, desperately seeking some red-hot Valentine-fuelled spending action. It's as though the whole world belongs to a club to which you are denied access, and it's not funny.
If you're in a relationship, then you have several obstacles to negotiate. Over the last few days, some of my favourite bloggers have been describing the awfulness in brilliantly graphic detail. Charlie Brooker's rant covers the expectation gap perfectly; Ms R provided a hilarious account of competitve rose-hauling between the girls in the office, whilst Maria over at Just Eat Your Cupcake nearly made me spit my tea with her account of the nonsense that her daughter's school are insisting on...
Where I live, Trophyism definitely rules supreme. A woman who keeps herself within the 'thin, blonde, tanned and manicured' parameters of the Essex Trophy Wife template expects (no, deserves, she would insist) no less than a brand new item for her Tiffany collection and dinner at The Ivy.
The wise and well-trained husband would do well to take note that in this case it's definitely the thought that counts - not his thought, no - the thought that this will show all those posh cows from Surrey at his City office that their flirtations with him are in vain, meaningless, he's hers dammit, and she's got another Tiffany ring to prove it...
This year, The Husband and I have concluded that, since we are still fortunate enough to have more sense than money, we're boycotting the whole thing. I fully expect that this will be the nicest and most relaxed Valentine's Day I have had since February 14th, 2002.
In 2002, I was working in an office that had a particularly strong anti-Valentine's vibe going on, due to the number of women there who had recently suffered a painful screwing over. I was one of them. No competitive comparisons of roses were permitted in our department that year - anyone who found themselves called down to reception to return with flowers faced a barrage of obscene hand gestures over the cubicle screens, accompanied by a lusty chorus of 'Oh, Just Fuck OFF!
No exceptions were made on the grounds of age, seniority, gender or sexual orientation...the smugger they were, the harder we jeered. It was fun.
When I got home that evening, I poured myself a gin and sat down in search of a TV programme unrelated to Valentine's Day. Before I found one, my flatmate H arrived home. H's luck with men had been just as awful as mine recently, and I think we'd both reached the stage of waking up on a Sunday morning wondering what kind of of manky specimen we were going to find in the kitchen this week...anyway, he said exactly what I needed to hear. 'Fuck them all darling - we are not staying in feeling sorry for ourselves on Valentine's Day, let's go out to dinner'.
A quick change of clothes later, off we went. We had a lovely meal in a Persian restaurant in South Kensington, where we scoffed at the poor mugs buying over-priced roses from the restaurant table muggers. We drank far too much wine, and then decided to test H's theory that you can say almost anything you like to a soppy couple on Valentine's Day as long as the man looks as though he is on a promise for an excellent night that might include a little extra something that he doesn't normally get. Our reasoning was that he's not going risk his luck by getting into a fight with a drunk gay man and his equally sloshed 5' 3" female companion.
Cheap pleasures admittedly, but still - so much more satisfying than getting a crappy 'joke' card and box of Ferrero Rocher. Or even worse, a creepy card or e-mail from the ex that you'll always be ex-directory for...
So, if you find yourself wanting to shout something other than 'Get a Room' at sloppy, slurping couples this Thursday, might I suggest the following for starters.*
'That's OK, you carry on, you clearly need the practice'
'No diamond ring? Oh bad luck...but still, it's a leap year you know.'
'I've had him - he was crap'
Happy Anti-Valentine's Day.
*Melissaria accepts no responsibility for any injuries sustained as a result of the above.
Friday, 8 February 2008
All things considered, it's been a bit a of a crappy week.
This is nothing new, just the usual February blues - Christmas is long gone, Spring is still too far away and the evenings and mornings are still dark and miserable. All that, and the whole Valentine's Day lunacy too - February is not my favourite time of year.
So, in the hope that a bit of weak, late-winter sun and some cold, fresh air would blow away some of the lingering malcontentment that makes me a rancid, horrible February ratbag, I packed the boy into the car this morning, and set off to our local butterflies, birds & wildlife place.
The boy, perhaps sensing my mood, sat in his buggy with politeness and good grace all the way around the tropical butterfly house, smiling and pointing obligingly in all the right places. He wasn't keen on the very loud squawking parrots - a shame, because Charlie the chattering Lory bird is a scream when he gets going - so we had to push on and out of the aviary.
(I wonder if the staff know that Charlie often says 'What's this? What's this? That's shit...' to the gathered pre-schoolers?)
Next up was Pet's Corner, where it seemed like a good enough opportunity to get him out of the buggy and let him have a walk. He chased the chickens, poked at the guinea pigs, and finally, we wandered off into Wallaby Paddock.
And that was when he saw it.
The huge, filthy puddle, lying straight ahead, right in the middle of the path.
'It's OK', I said. 'You've got your wellies on, that's what they're for - off you go'. He didn't need telling twice.
Today, I learned that there is no pleasure on earth to match that experienced by a one-year-old splashing in a puddle for the very first time. I nearly cried with laughter, as he danced, stamped, stomped, splashed, giggled and squealed and the filthy water sloshed all over the pair of us.
As an inexperienced, first-time parent of a toddler, I tend to find that these new experiences often teach me something new on a practical level - so here are today's lessons:
1. All the exciting, hoppity-hop action of an entire, free-roaming mob of tame wallabies is as nothing compared to the unadulterated joy to be had from one good, muddy puddle.
2. Any expedition that involves wellies will also necessitate a change of clothes. This is crucial, because...
3. ...you must choose trousers that will stay tucked in the wellies. The mid-splash-wardrobe-malfunction/no-spare-clothes combination is disastrous!
Bring on the April showers - I'm off out to get myself some new wellies, and get in on the Splash Therapy!
Photo courtesy of Flickr/sierraromeo
Monday, 4 February 2008
From time to time, I fall into the inevitable trap of feeling as though I am very much 'stuck' at home with my boy and longing for involvement in the outside, adult world of work. This is thoroughly irrational, because I only ever had one good, music-related job that I enjoyed - all the rest have made me feel as though I was about to lose the plot...
Still, every so often, an absolute gem of a Corporate Cowpat flops down from the sky, and makes me realise that I'm far better off where I am, because work is clearly where a lot of very stupid people hang out...
Last week, the Golden Cowpat award went to UK high street retailer Woolworths, for trying to flog a little girls' bed by naming it Lolita.
It's not so much the unfortunate brand name that made me laugh, nor the flustered ruffling of feathers that it caused among the mums' internet forum whose complaints led to the product's eventual withdrawal. It was the following explanation given by a spokesperson for the company.
"The staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita and to be honest no one else here had either. We had to look it up on Wikipedia. But we know who she is now."
Perhaps now, the newly-enlightened Woolworths staff, and uptight mums' forum users might care to take a second look at this Bratz 'twin baby doll' product still on sale in Woolworths. Yes, you read it correctly. Twin BABY dolls. With matching twin buggy & sexy lingerie, slutty make-up, and frankly filthy pouts.
Once they have done so, perhaps they would tell me if they still believe they picked the right sexualised product to get all het up about?
Whilst I'm on the subject of corporate horseshit, here's someone else who should be sacked immediately; the person responsible for corporate communications at Percepta. They recently ran a job ad in our local paper containing the following delightful examples of contemporary jargon:
'Percepta UK is an innovative and progressive customer relationship management organisation who are seeking key people to champion our values and whose primary focus is to deliver quality customer service'
Well that was snappy - I'm hooked already, do tell me more...oh, I see, you want someone to be responsible for...
'Designing, developing and delivering operational learning solutions aligned to business objectives...'
Ah. Someone to do your training then...why didn't you just say so? I'm still not sure what you actually do, although I'm getting a very good picture of the type of employee you're looking for.
In the meantime, please step forward to receive your Corporate Cowpat Special Award for 'The Week's Best Bit of Buzzword-Loaded Bollocks'.
My sincerest congratulations to these shining examples of how to reach the bottom of the business barrel and keep on digging. Ricky Gervais is probably writing a brand new BAFTA, Emmy & Golden Globe-winning script in your honour as we speak.
Thursday, 31 January 2008
Remember this? The £460 Moncler coat that I recently described as a 'gigantic shrink-wrapped turd'?
They have taken over our streets. They are everywhere. Even on friends who may well read my blog and now think that I am a dreadful, stylistically-challenged old boot-face who clearly hasn't realised that the 1990s ended some time ago.*
It's not the Moncler version I'm seeing - the high street interpretation is less shiny, and granted, less turdesque, but even so...this looks like yet another seasonal trend, along with Crocs, skinny jeans, and that whole 'gypsy skirt with huge dinner-plate belt' look that is going to have to pass me by.
The Husband nailed the quilted coat thing though. 'Looks exactly like boiler lagging, especially on the short, fat ones'.
Go on, look again and tell us we're wrong...
*If you would like to make a generous donation so that I can book a consultation with Gok Wan, and get my 'bangers' projected on to the side of an enormous building, then please don't hesitate to get in touch...
Sunday, 27 January 2008
It would seem that the vagaries of the fashion and beauty industries that inspired last week's rant are finally about to answer a question that's been bugging me for years.
Do men tend to require fewer and simpler cosmetic products because they really are less vain and more secure, or have the evil arch-bastards simply not found the right way to get to them yet?
Yesterday however, I discovered that increasing numbers of men, inspired by that David Beckham ad, are heading to beauty salons up and down the country to get themselves a Boyzilian.
Now, whilst both David and Victoria Beckham have kept UK hairdressers churning out replicas of their trend-setting barnets for over 10 years now, I hadn't predicted that this particular look would be driving British menfolk into the grasping clutches of the beauty industry in search of the perfect Back, Sack and Crack.
There's a cynical part of me is thinking it highly likely that the smooth appearance shown in the ad owes more to an ad designer's Photoshop skills than to those of hot-wax-wielding beauticians.
But the whole thing reminded me of a client of ours a few years ago who persuaded his girlfriend to model a product for festival-goers that he had invented and was trying to bring to market. The ad showed the product draped over her bare bottom, and she was surprised and delighted by the way she looked in it.
'Blimey', she said.'My arse looks really nice there doesn't it?'.
'You've got to be kdding me.', came the reply. 'It's taken me 6 hours in Photoshop to get it looking like that!'.
I wonder if they're still together?
Friday, 25 January 2008
Toddlers learn new monkey tricks quickly.
My boy's early obssession with lights clearly indicates that he is to be an electrician, like his grandad. His mean overarm throw indicates a future England spin bowler, his tower building skills make him the next Christopher Wren, and his demolition work means that Fred Dibnah's crown will not be cast down for long.
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
So says this week's New Scientist magazine, in an article to warm the hearts of lazy mummies everywhere.
I was once asked, in one of those mummy conversations, how often I disinfected our toys. 'Never', I said. 'Unless I found it down the toilet, or in the dog's mouth, and even then I'd probably just bung it in the dishwasher. A bit of dirt does them no harm.'
Whilst the hygiene debate amongst your average set of mothers-at-a-playgroup probably extends no further than allergies and asthma, it seems that the outlook for the child of a slightly slummy mummy could possibly be even brighter.
Here are the edited highlights:
'As strange as it sounds, epidemiologists are starting to uncover some unexpected links between our exposure to dirt and germs and our risk of cancer later in life...Such findings point towards a curious possibility: one way to avoid dying of cancer may be a hefty dose of germs.
The notion that living dirty has benefits may ring a bell. Researchers have been debating the 'hygiene hypothesis' for years, but it is typically discussed as an explanation for the rising incidence of allergies and asthma in developed countries, not cancer.
Now some researchers are starting to wonder whether the higher incidence of certain cancers in affluent populations - including breast cancer, lymphoma and melanoma - might also have something to do with sanitised, infection-free living. If they're right, the implications are huge.
There are of course huge problems. Assessing ways of preventing cancer, rather than treating it, can take decades. And no-one is suggesting deliberately exposing people to risky infections...when it comes to vaccines with a proven safety record, however, there are far fewer issues.'
Still, if your own mother was a hygiene queen, there are benefits to be had in other ways. Apparently, working in a cotton factory, or doing a job that involves breathing in lots of aerosolised manure (e.g. on a dairy farm) will also make you far less likely to develop lung cancer, even if you are a smoker.
Fantastic news all round. I'm looking forward to getting my good friend MadCow's take on the subject. She's called MadCow because she has substantial academic and professional expertise in the field of virology - and she always knows the juicy bits that the newspapers and magazines won't tell you.
In the meantime, I'm off to make the most of that season ticket to our local Open Farm - looks like there might be some new added value in it for us all!
Friday, 18 January 2008
When I wrote What Men Want. Part 1: Boobies back in December, I promised to follow it up with Parts 2 & 3, Blow Jobs and Beer. As these are 2 topics on which I am never knowingly under-opinionated, a brief discussion will follow shortly. Very brief - this isn't one of those filthy sex blogs, you know...
A common theme has emerged from this week's blogs and papers - a theme of women being lied to and generally mis-led on the subject of what is expected of them, and more specifically, what is expected or desired of them by men.
I'm not absolutely sure how these silly myths end up in mainstream consciousness, sending young girls and grown women alike rushing out to grab the blonde hair dye and fake tan, and booking themselves in for a french manicure and boob job to prop up their resulting non-existent self-esteem. I suspect that porn and advertising will be to blame somewhere along the way. But I am sure that most of it is utter bollocks.
I am sure, becausae I've discussed it with a lot of honest men. I have observed inconsistencies between men's reactions to real women and, the images of women we are told are attractive. I have asked direct questions and had direct answers. The knowledge I have gained has been liberating and priceless, and it genuinely upsets me that so many women cause themselves unnecessary grief and loss of self-worth because they either don't know or refuse to believe it.
So, before this starts to turn into a serious essay, I bring you my Top 5 Myths: What Women Seem to Think Men Want And Why They are Wrong.
1. Big Breasts. There is no getting away from the fact that men like breasts, and an enormous pair of hooters is always going to be an attention grabber. But for the overwhelming majority of men, it's quality, not size that matters. Of course men enjoy looking at pictures of women with big boobs, but they really do like looking at pictures of women with small ones just as much. As the Lancashire lads used to tell me 'Anything more than a nice handful is a waste...'
2. Revealing Clothes. 'Less is more' is a nonsense statement on more than one level. Again, we are lulled into the idea that because men enjoy looking at the sexy images that lads mags and porn present, we must reproduce those looks to be found attractive. Not so. A man who is simply out for a sexual conquest, will be looking for the magic combination of maximum ego-gratification/minimum effort and is therefore likely to hit on the most sexually obvious woman in the room. But how likely is he to call her the next day? I think we all know the answer to that one. Emphasising one's best bits does not mean hanging them out like meat on a butcher's hook.
3. The Domestic Goddess. You can try, but unless you are the genuine article when it comes to effortlessly cleaning like a fantasy Swedish au pair girl, whilst cooking like Nigella, in all her buxom, spatula-licking glory, then attempting it is futile. In reality, you'll end up nagging him into oblivion about every little misdemeanour, and will be no fun whatsoever. I will make an exception for three issues - wet towels, dirty shoes, and opened post. Any man who leaves them lying around the house every day deserves everything he gets.
4. Manicured Nails. I just don't get it, and neither do any men that I know. Especially French or American manicures - they're just all wrong. Apparently some women have this done to their feet too. Why? I suspect this one passed me by because I spent my formative years amongst aspiring musicians. You simply can't play most musical instruments with great long talons, so no-one had them. It didn't hold us back, I promise you. As long as your nails are clean and not bitten, you haven't chewed around the tops of your fingers, and your hands are not covered in hair, warts or callouses, you'll be just fine. (Unless you want to date Tad Safran, but then I would have to question your sanity...)
5. To Feel Needed. Possibly controversial, but I say no. Men like to feel wanted, loved and desired and (this is crucial), useful. They do not want to feel as though you would crumple in a pathetic heap if they were to leave you to it for a few weeks. It's a subtle difference perhaps, but I cannot over-emphasise its importance. It's one of the biggest contradictions going - women are often told that men like to feel needed, men often cite neediness as one of the least attractive traits a woman can have. It can be a fine line to tread - treating him like a hero for fixing a shelf will serve you well, crying into his shirt because you simply must have the shelf fixed today and can't possibly manage it yourself - do you see my point?
So there we have it. You really don't need to be PornStar Barbie to be attractive to men. I hope you will enjoy the freedom this knowledge brings as much as I do. As someone recently commented on one of my favourite blogs- 'It's tough for blokes. We have to kiss loads of princesses before we find a real woman!'
Sunday, 13 January 2008
I've been spitting bile and foaming at the mouth this week over the evils of the UK and USA fashion, beauty and cosmetics industries.
From that Tad Safran article, to the increasing quantity of media space given to the outrage that is vaginal cosmetic surgery, it seems that the arch-bastards of these insidious industries are embarking on a major offensive (and I mean that on every level) to make sure that women have their tiniest blemishes and imperfections highlighted, exaggerated and ridiculed with every turn of every page, and with every click of the remote control or mouse.
I'm not kidding about the surgery either - I've read two pieces this week alone; a brilliantly argued piece by the Guardian's Cath Elliott, followed by fellow blogger EmmaK's irreverent take on the subject. I defy you to read either with your legs uncrossed...
So, I've been wondering, just how dim and gullible do these so-called fashion and beauty gurus think women are? And then I opened today's Sunday Times Style Supplement, and I found this.
For a desperately trendy and exclusive Moncler coat.
That looks like a gigantic, shrink-wrapped turd.
Women of intellect and reason, please feel free to draw your own conclusions.
Thursday, 10 January 2008
The past few days have seen me tearing my hair out over a semi-serious piece about the current popular(ish) obssession with Reason, Logic and Rational Argument.
It seems to me that, when it comes to living one's mundane everyday existence, these three things are massively overrated, and can often be counter-productive. Ironically though, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to sling together a half-decent rational argument as to why.
It's partly down to my belief that almost all of what we call intution or feelings actually have their roots in logical thought processes, even if we're not immediately able to recognise or articulate them.
It's also partly because very logical people can be incredibly irrititating, and certainly never seem to be any happier as a result of their dedication to the cause. I will grant though, that they are often quite wealthy.*
Lastly, it's because I'm a mum, and if I took the time to reason out appropriate and consistent responses before acting, my toilet would be stuffed full of cuddly monkeys and giraffes, and Dynorod would be laughing at me.
So for now, I will simply supply a visual approximation of what I think might happen to the human race if we all began to rationalise every last detail of our existence:
Personally, I'm not in favour...
*Which reminds of the most logical thing my mother has ever said; 'Money won't buy you happiness, but at least you can be miserable in comfort'
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
Had an exhausting but lovely weekend away in Durham, and fell in love with the cathedral in a big way. It is just enormous, and I cannot for the life of me work out how they got those carvings into the columns...brilliant.
[Hangs cathedral-fetishists' anorak back in wardrobe until next time, and resumes normal life...]
More later, I have a stack of catching up to do, including booking my Speed Awareness Course, following my unfortunate misdemeanour last year. Three hours of being lectured about bad driving habits, for someone who wants to be a driving instructor when she's done with being a full-time mum is going to hurt.
It'll be a fine testament to my self-control if I don't get turfed out and prosecuted regardless. Must remember to take duct tape for my mouth.
Friday, 4 January 2008
Slummy Mummy is disappearing for the weekend again.
Hardly life on the edge, I know...but it is a change, a break and a chance to spend some quality time catching up with some good friends. What more could a run down, stressed out and thoroughly haggard mother ask for?*
*Yes, yes I know, but if I wanted handsome and charming men then I'd have to choose another hobby...