Football Sur L-Herbe

 

When they were young, my sons, in common with many other little boys, enjoyed nothing better than a kick about in the back garden. Actually, that’s not strictly true, because they were also into Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Zippy from Rainbow (though they would deny the last on the point of a sword!  As for George, the gender confused pink hippo –  nuff said!) Anyway, for the purposes of this blog, let’s just stick with the footie. Now, Old Jack (people often qualified this by adding ‘boots’ on the end) really put the cur in curmudgeon. His DNA was a mixture of Alf Garnett, Victor Meldrew and Attila the Hun – and that was with calm weather and a fair day.  Still, the little bit of good that is in everyone, manifested itself in Jack’s green fingers, and the very fine garden that came about as a result of his working them to the bone.

Unfortunately for Jack, my kids’ football often manifested in his garden too, generally right in the middle of his prized begonias – which is when Jack would go into complete meltdown. Presaged by a roar that caused the dead to wonder if the Day of Judgment was already to hand, Jack would appear, nose over the garden fence, carving knife in one hand, football in the other, demanding answers – always to the same question. ‘How do you want it back, you little b*##!!!s sliced or diced?’

Time has rolled by and Jack has long since gone to fertilise another plot, still putting his body, if not his soul into it. My sons have grown up, grown out of football and grown into girls – though not literally.  I have grown too, things horticultural, herbs, vegetables, flowers. More than that, my sympathy has grown – for Jack – may the angels help him prune his heavenly garden and sharpen his carving knife! More than that, I am proud to pick up his Alf/Victor/Attila mantle and wear it with pride. Why? Because, right next door, two ‘orrible little b*##!!!s are forever kicking their football into the middle of my prized herb garden and flattening the oregano and Greek basil (I got the last heavily discounted, much like their national debt!).

To date, I have been patient, smiled my understanding I-know-what-it’s-like-to-be-the-mother-of –ruffians smile at their apologetic, (but not apologetic enough),mother. My patience has worn thin to the point of emaciation. My carving knife is as honed as Mark Cavendish’s thighs on the final lap of the Tour de France. But, I won’t be grabbing the football. I’ll be grabbing the brats and demanding answers from their mother.  ‘How do you want your little b*##!!!s back, sliced or diced?’

Footnote:  Outside, there is the steady thwack thwack of a football against my garden fence. One of the timbers has already come loose and is swinging forlornly like an arm that has been wrenched out of its socket.  ‘Boot it harder, you wuss,’ comes the piped instruction, from an owner whose testicles still have a long way to descend. The fear from the herb bed is palpable.  On the kitchen counter the carving knife gleams dully . . .

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Eats Leaves and Shoots Carnation Petals – the language of flowers!

 

A recent survey found that an impromptu gift of flowers from the man in your life could lead to accusations of cheating.  This, you understand, is not something of which I have personal experience as, in common with many other men, my husband doesn’t ‘do’ flowers. ‘Why,’ he exclaims, wearing the kind of persecuted face Ann Boleyn wore on her way to the block, ‘do you need flowers to know I love you? Besides, the last time I gave you flowers you mocked and scorned me. And five years on, you’re still nagging.’ Huh! I deny none of it. Let the crime fit the traducing, is what I say and pink, plastic and nasty ratchets up the punishment factor.  Even worse, if the pink, plastic and nasty offering comes in a nasty, brown plastic hanging-basket guaranteed to be still going strong when only cockroaches hold sway.  Listen up, men; this is for your own good. There is a strict hierarchy in the world of flower-giving, one you would do well to learn quickly if you are not to revert to walking on all fours.

Real  = good (kisses follow and happy-clappy sounds)

Fake  = skirting close to the wind. (danger of low flying kitchen knives, divorce, maybe violent death)

Red roses from Interflora  = (kisses and hugs, candlelight dinner, nudge nudge, wink, wink and uninterrupted viewing of Sports Channel.)

Bunch of diesel-smelling, dusty blooms from service station – Only ever to be attempted by those wearing full Kevlar body armour, or by Arnie Schwarzenegger’s body double. (Most common complication –  Eats leaves and shoots Carnation petals, thorns and stems from orifices not usually on public display.)

So there you have it, guys, the Dummy’s Guide to saying it with flowers. Just remember to choose your words (and flowers) with care.

Me? I’m just off to buy some shoes, a handbag, a new dress, perfume and, of course, some flowers – all on David’s credit card. Ah, well, he should have gone to Interflora.

Keep Young and Beautiful – it’s your duty to be gullible!

Ever whitened your teeth with urine? The Romans did. Ever use lead-based face powder? The Tudors did. Arsenic to make your skin luminous or Belladonna to brighten your eyes – no? Clearly, Edwardian beauties were made of sterner stuff. How about hot wax dropped onto your eyelashes to lengthen them or lemon juice in your pupils to brighten them? Fancy a smaller waist? Simples! Have a couple of ribs removed. When not otherwise engaged in covering up piano legs and shooing underfed kids up chimneys, the Victorians did the lot. Sharper cheekbones anyone? No pain no gain. 1940s film star, Joan Crawford had a couple of back teeth removed.  She never ate steak again, but she looked mighty good in them thar flicks.

Dear, oh, dear! Makes you glad we live in more enlightened times, doesn’t it? No chance of us blinding ourselves with Lash Lure eyelash – in the 1930s they didn’t see it coming. Rat poison hair removal cream, anyone? Guaranteed not only to smooth your legs, but, er, your scalp as well, with maybe a bit of euritis, myalgia, and arthralgi thrown in for good measure. Possibly death! Those1930s gals, again! Terrific sports, what?

And if the foregoing makes you wince, have a look at this little lot. (Caution: read on an empty stomach). Injections of a deadly toxin, Botulism, to dispense with a few wrinkles. Faces and bodies carved up by scalpel-happy surgeons. Fat sucked out.  Silicone pumped in. Noses broken, trout-pout lips and gigantic plastic boobs. Chemical peels and dermabrasion (the skin burned away in one, literally sanded away in the other). Gastric bands (I’ve lost my appetite). Flesh flambéed in ultra violet radiation. Body hair ripped out by the roots or by one of those depilatory instruments of torture (dreamed up by Vlad the Impaler in a particularly imaginative moment).Starvation, for that perfect size 0 figure.

Thank God we live in 2011, eh?

Scrabblerouser – Obnoxious in Defeat!

 

Recently, I have been prompted to take a long deep look into my psyche and the picture that has emerged is not pretty. Far from being the chilled out, mellow, bonhommying creature of my imaginings, it seems that I am, in fact, a fully paid up member of the school of bad losers. Rotten losers! Foul tempered, sulky, ungracious in the extreme, losers! And nowhere does this become more apparent than whilst engaging in that seemingly innocuous game, Scrabble. Unreasonable though it is, the minute those little letter-covered blocks emerge from their wee green sack, my territorial instincts come hurtling to the fore. ‘I am the writer,’ I shriek as if this, in some way, negates everybody else’s ability to spell or even to understand English.  ‘I should have the last word!’ And this, regardless of whether the other participants (armed with Eng. Lit degrees) or even all the King’s horses and all the King’s men beg to differ. ‘Hah! Call that a word,’ I yell, my dudgeon rising to heights unscaled by any other dudgeon in the history of dudgeons. ‘Well, I never heard of it, and it’s no good stabbing your finger, that dictionary is clearly wrong.’  But, of course, the same rules are somewhat more elastic when it comes to my own contributions. The trick is to look both incredulous and aggrieved (should not be attempted if you’ve had Botox). ‘What? You’ve managed to live on this planet for the last hundred years and never heard of zuvixyfug?.   Yes, yes, it’s supercalifragilisticexpialaudacious – (imagine how much that scores on a triple) –  but to hell with the moral high ground, I want to win! I want to conquer (‘q’ and ‘u’ are always a handy combination).  And you know, when you think of it, Scrabble is a good metaphor for society. There are the high scorers and the inventive (me!), the play-it-by the rules mob, (safe, but dull), and the out and out losers.  A quick look at our politicians will demonstrate exactly what I mean.  Spice up a dull moment by putting them into each category. If necessary, you can invent  a new one, e.g., ‘extremely stupid’ or ‘born without a brain’. You can do the same with members of the judiciary, footballers (must look up how much super-injunction scores), actors and celebs, your boss, friends and family. The list is endless.

Scrabble– it sorts the wit from the chavs.  I’m in it to win it!

Shabby Cheek!

I am enjoying a break at the moment, hiding out in a lovely Grade 11 listed cottage in one of the many charming villages scattered round beautiful Somerset.  The weather, if not brilliant, is at least pleasant, with only the odd scattering of rain chucked down by the powers that be as a sop to the farmers and gardeners who are revolting. (If childish humour is your thing, make your own joke here).  In any case, here I am in the lovely rolling countryside of this cider-making county, loafing around and listening to the burr of the local birds, whilst dutifully mapping out the where-to-visit-today itinerary.  On Sunday, it was off to Bristol to see Brunel’s HMS Great Britain and, let me tell you, judging by the size of the tiny bunks, anorexia is clearly not a modern-day phenomenon. In fact, so narrow were they, it would be difficult to lie two dry straws of spaghetti side by side.  So much for the myth of the jolly fat sailor! For any naval history buffs, though, it’s  worth the entrance fee.

The following day saw us spending a pleasant few hours in Bradford on Avon, a pretty Saxon town in Wiltshire. In true tourist fashion we ambled beside the Kennet and Avon canal admiring the picture-perfect narrow boats moored on each side, then popped along to have a look at the enormous 14th century Tithe Barn at Barton Grange Farm.  As tourism is the mainstay of the area, there were a number of craft and souvenir shops close by and, like Pavlov’s dogs, I was soon salivating and champing at the bit, (which was a bit scary for onlookers!), desperate to go charging off into those Aladdin’s caves of  . . .tat!  Well, what else would you call six tin cans (I swear one still had a baked bean at the bottom) fashioned into a clunk-ugly cat? In disbelief, I turned my attention to a small mirror, the frame of which had been ‘distressed’ so badly, the poor thing was clearly distraught.  ‘Shabby chic,’ the shop assistant told me with a ‘what would you know, ignorant peasant’ glare, as I took it over to point out the damage.  Okay, so I may not be a member of MENSA  (I can’t even spell it), but I figure there is something wrong when something that has been wilfully trashed (sorry, distressed) costs three times the price of said object in its ‘un-distressed’ state.  I can’t help but feel the same about clothes that are worn out before ever you’ve worn them, threadbare hemlines (organic  apparently), frayed, ripped and faded jeans that look as though some builder has left not only his bum in them, but half the building site too. And, okay, so I may be a woman d’un age certain, but I’m no fuddy duddy and certainly not averse to being conned.  I have, indeed, been royally conned on several occasions (er . . . a dancing Mickey Mouse with no visible means of support).  Not on this occasion, though. Replacing both tin-can cat and grief-stricken mirror and carefully eschewing the stuffed, ripped, patched-with-old-socks gingham rabbit (with cross-stitched eyes, only thirty quid!) I backed out like a vegetarian at a cannibal convention.

Today, we are off to Avebury to see the megalithic stones (more Hubby’s thing than mine – one megalithic stone is much the same as another). If there’s a souvenir shop lurking (with intent to con) in the vicinity, I promise I will just walk on by.  Shabby chic? My foot! Shabby cheek!

First, though, I need to pack away the pink raffia heart-shaped cushion with the cutesy sayings stamped all over it I bought the day before. It will look just stunning in the living room, next to the tartan coal scuttle and the bulrush poker.

Information Overload – Sending Out An S.O.S.

So far today, I have Googled, emailed, texted, Tweeted, Facebook’d, updated my website and blogged, all in the interests of furthering communication. What I have not done is to exchange one word with a living being. I did speak to the cat, but that was a pretty one-sided conversation and not much fun for either of us. (Summary: ‘Lizzie, did you poop in my herbs again?’. ‘Meow!’.)

Anyway, In order to cover all the bases, I have decided to sign up for classes in Morse code and Indian smoke signals, and if anybody can think of any other ‘platform’ I have missed, feel free to contact me – in whatever way you like. I’ll even consider old-fashioned, one-on-one speech.

Now, when a PR lady first decreed that I should have as many platforms as possible, I thought she was referring to footwear. I had a pair once back in the day, as the kids say between Neanderthal grunts, but one came to grief beneath a double-decker bus. My misty-eyed expression told her that she needed to disabuse me of that notion quick smart and wisen me up to the endless possibilities of technology, and how I could make use of it to promote me as a product.

Me, as a product? Surely, she meant my books? But no, these days it is simply not enough to leave the marketing side of one’s opus to others (even though they have ‘da knowledge’), one has to BECOME the product, BE THE BOOK! One has to emerge from one’s garret or the local pub blinking owlishly, suited, booted and coiffed, all ready to embark on ‘the publicity trail’.

But, as I smile winningly for another photograph (look, it’s as winning as I can make it – there are limits to how much you can pull your stomach in), dig deep for a new slant for an interview, press whatever flesh comes my way for pressing, I can’t help but wonder who really cares what I look like, or what my opinion is on the state of asparagus in the EU, or whether I have two Weetabix for my breakfast or none at all.

As a reader, the Litmus test for me has always been whether or not the author ‘gives good book’ (I love American expressions, they’re so vomitous!). Their personal attributes (or lack of the same), opinions, lifestyles etc, do not concern me one jot and I can’t help but feel that I’m in the majority camp on that one.

That said – if you would like to know more about me, you can Google, text, email, blog, Facebook, Tweet . . .

PS: I give good book!

The Honesty of Hens – Some Girls Have All The Cluck

Lately, I’ve been thinking about keeping hens. There is something very honest about a hen, something comforting like Prozac or warm chicken soup. Dogs and cats, I’ve noticed, all seem to have a side to them, a hidden agenda, a me, me, me mentality masquerading as loyal affection. Buster, the boss-eyed beagle, wants to be played with, praised endlessly for being a good doggy-woggy, taken for long scent-marking walks and fed large expensive meaty bowls of Growler several times a day. Tiddly Winks wants, nay, demands to be worshipped and cuddled for precisely no other reason than that she’s a cat and, therefore, superior to every other living creature. And what return do you get on your investment in these divas of the animal kingdom? A flea in the ear and often everywhere else too!  Henny, on the other hand, plain little Henny Penny, with her beady little inquisitive eyes and ruffled pantaloon feathers is just herself, innately honest. She neither demands attention or affection. She doesn’t slobber, chew or scratch the furniture. She doesn’t hiss or spit. In return for a modest mess of pottage she amply rewards her benefactor with a regular supply of lovely fresh googy eggs. And Henny’s politics are green too – no yolk! (so much for swearing I wouldn’t make any puns in this blog). Note her Dyson-like ability to hoover up those smelly old veg parings that would otherwise fester in the bin, attracting flies and other undesirables like the local tramp. I know, I know, I’m coming over all broody, but I’m seriously beginning to feel like the sky might fall down if I don’t get my very own hen.  Rhode Island Red, Golden Comet, Foghorn Leghorn – I’ve Googled and the choice is endless and confusing. Judicious consideration and weighing in the balance is what is required. So, I’ll think about it over dinner tonight. Nothing like a crisp bottle of Sauvignon and a nice bit of roast chicken to clear the mind.