When Cold Callers Make You Hot Beneath The Collar

I am a writer, something many people seem to think does not qualify as ‘real work’, and thus take advantage of my being at home to interrupt me any old time at all. This is especially true of cold callers who normally send me into a frenzy of rage, unless I’m feeling particularly mellow, when I like to engage in a bit of harmless fun.

Fun with Cold Callers – Part 1

Trrrng Trrng (very poor sound effect of phone ringing)

Me: (mellow version) – Yaws?

CC: Can I speak with Tara Moore?

Me: (tutting sympathetically) – Oh, dear, you’ve not heard then?

CC. Er . . .uch . . . (or Indian equivalent)

Me: We’re holding the wake now? Would you like to pass on your condolences?

CC. Uh . . . ah . . . (or Nigerian equivalent)

Me: Hang on, I’ll just fetch one of the rellies. Back in a mo.

CC: No. . .no . . um . . . I only wanted . . .

Me: To send flowers? How kind. Lilies were her favourite you know. Stargazers, in particular. Did you know the stamens are poisonous to cats? No? Well they are, so keep Dibbles away from the vase. And they stain your clothes too. Not cats. The stamens. Although your own personal cat might stain your clothes  – it’s not for me to make accusations against the feline fraternity.

CC.  Strangulated sound . . . (or Northern Irish or Liverpudlian equivalent) . . . I’m . . . ah . . . only doing an energy survey

Me: Energy? My good man, the woman has no energy. She’s dead!

CC. (doing vowel wounds) aah, eee, iii, ooh, uuu . . . sorry to have troubled you.

Me: You can still send flowers

CC. click …. brrrr (very poor imitation of dead line)

Fun with Cold Callers – Part 2

Trrrng Trrng (usual very poor sound effect of phone ringing)

Me: (officious) – Inspector (cough!), who’s speaking?

CC:  (hesitant) Er . . .can I speak with Tara Moore?

Me: (snappy!)  How do you know the deceased? Can you account for your movements between 5.00 p.m. yesterday and 7.00 a.m. this morning? Do you own a Samurai sword? Have you ever learned butchery? Stay where you are, we’re coming round.

CC. click …. brrrr (very poor imitation of dead line)

Try it– you’ll be amazed how good it makes you feel.  Must go, the phone is ringing. Now, am I feeling mellow . . .

RSVP by Tara Moore

The Granville Midsummer Ball is always an affair to remember. The who’s who of Irish society gather at Carrickross House – the rural family estate – for a night of revelry. But this year’s soiree is extra-special: matriarch Honoria is announcing her grandson Rossa’s engagement to Ashling Morrison. Ashling has been swept off her feet. Tall, dark and handsome, Rossa’s the perfect catch, but is he too good to be true? Why is Honoria so keen to make Ashling – stepdaughter of her life-long enemy Coppelia – part of the Granville clan? Can Rossa’s brother Carrick hold on to his position as rightful heir? And will ruthless Coppelia have her way? With the promise of distinguished company, drinking, dancing and murder…who could possibly refuse this invitation? Repondez s’il vous plait.

THE AUTHOR

One of six children, Tara Moore was born in Kildare but spent her formative years in the Middle East. Tara always harboured a passion for writing but that was initially eclipsed by her passion for music, dancing and unsuitable boyfriends. She now lives in the beautiful harbour town of Ramsgate with her husband and two sons.

Contact her on: http://www.taramoore.com

Read an interview on: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/independent-woman/celebrity-news-gossip/calm-after-the-storm-2124745.html

The Grape Escape

You heard it here first, I am a problem drinker. The problem, though, is not the amount I drink, but what I drink. Wine! You see, I am beginning to suspect, much as I do with modern art and thong lingerie, that someone somewhere is having a laugh at my expense. Explain, if you can, why the Bacchanalian thirst-quencher of the Gods, for which I paid a hefty sum (anything above five quid, I consider hefty) is actually no more than a liquidised fruit salad – “tongue-tingling freshness, with a tantalising kick of vibrant lemon, lime and pink grapefruit”. To use the vernacular of the young – Duh? Like, where are the grapes, dude? I mean, whatever! A quick squint at the rest of my very modest wine collection confirms the emperor’s new clothes trick being perpetrated upon the unsuspecting or downright gullible. In other words, me! The bottle of Riesling earmarked for a nice fish dinner contains not grapes as one might expect, but “delicate floral aromas, combined with a steely character (ooh, missus!), concentrated citrus and peach notes”.  Ditto, my stalwart little Argentinian, who bravely rings the changes with “wild red fruits and ripe plums, a touch of spiciness and a velvety texture”.  Wot? Still no grapes?

As with most things in life, one has to draw the line somewhere. Essence of liquorice, lingering hint of tobacco, vanilla, chocolate and extract of angel’s tears, all encapsulated in a bottle masquerading as Chianti? Chuck me over a lager, dude. I’m done!

Pregnant Men and Pink Elephants

A friend of mine breezed up to me recently with one of those smug looks that make you want to hit people.  ‘We’re pregnant,’ she announced, looking all expectant but not in an expectant way as she hadn’t begun to ‘show’ yet. ‘Well?’ she tinkled (pregnant women always tinkle, have you noticed that? Later on when their bump gets much bigger and leans on the bladder they tinkle in an altogether different way, non-stop). ‘Aren’t you surprised?’

Yes, I was surprised. Not that she was pregnant, but that he was. You see, being a bit old fashioned and sour, I just can’t get my head round this miraculous event at all. I did biology at school.  I dissected frogs and bits of cows’ eyes, even chased one unfortunate girl round the playground with a bloodied retina (the cow’s, mine came later when Sr. Boniface found out what I’d done) and although I wasn’t an A student (although I did say A quite a lot, as in Eh? Eh?) my lowly ‘D’ in the subject was enough to tell me that men don’t get pregnant. This, you’ll appreciate, is a fact.  It is indisputable. So where did this ‘we’ come from all of a sudden? Has the culture of luvvy-dum gone so far that we now have his and hers pregnancies –  blue bumps and pink bumps – to go with the ‘his’ and ‘hers’ towels and ‘his’ and ‘hers’ bath robes and ‘his’ and ‘hers’  4 wheel drives? Listen,  I like a bit of romance as well as the next woman, but when the mere sight of a loved-up couple arriving (arm-in-arm) on the scene results in other people parting company with their large intestine, the ‘tehgeddeness’ factor has gone too far.  Remember, ladies, there is a time and a placenta for everything.

And, you know, it’s invariably the same kind of woman who says ‘we’re pregnant’, who will also be guilty of being a ‘pink’ fiend and a fully paid up member of the Cath Kidson cutesy school of floraldom?  It’s not enough for her to be female – no, she has to rub our noses in how ‘feminine’  she is, as if the rest of us in our  M&S plain white cotton knickers (off-white in my case as I generally manage to put a black sock  in the white wash) are great galumphing heifers in comparison.  She knows every shade of pink in the spectrum, ice-cream, Fuchsia, hot-pink, rose, vomit, and – drum roll – has the rose-bud wellies to prove it.  Her bedroom is, yep, pink. Pink walls, ceiling, carpet, bed clothes, fairy lights, cuddly pink toys and when you step inside (shoes removed), it is like being swallowed up by a voracious marshmallow.  The pinkness extends into every single area of her I’m-just-a-silly-ickle-bickle-woman world. She’ll have a miniature gardening set – pink gloves, watering can, trowel and spade.  Her car will be pink, often a VW Beetle or Mini Minor, the interior kitted out in pink with a pink fur steering wheel cover, pink fur seat covers and pink things dangling from the rear view mirror. At work, she’ll have pink memo pads, pink sparkly pencils with tassels, pink mouse pads and even a pink mouse.  She’ll drink pink cocktails and champagne because hers is a pink-themed Barbie world.  Honestly, all this pinkness makes me see red.  Pink, pink, makes the boys wink, goes the old saying but, in my experience, it is more likely to make them bilious.  Little girls – the clue is in the adjective – can just about get away with pink everything – they’re ignorant and know no better

My friend with the pregnant husband (ex friend after this article is published) is the original pink fiend.  Her wedding was ‘Flamingo’ and her dress clashed horribly with the broken veins on her mother-in-law’s nose.  The bridesmaids wore ashes of roses (a yucky greyish-pink), the groom’s tie was salmon pink, the cake was coral pink and everybody’s face was pink when the best man was found in flagrante delicto with the bride’s older brother, whose discarded button hole was carnation pink.

As of today, I have adopted a new mantra.  Pink? Just say no! As for pregnant men  – is that a pink elephant I see before me?

Come Die With Me

My name is Tara Moore and I am an addict. There, I’ve taken the first step to recovery and confessed it. But my fix comes not from alcohol or drugs, shopping or over-eating (though I’m certainly borderline on the last two and possibly the first), but from Come Dine With Me, that TV programme where five perfect strangers take it in turns to host a dinner party. Whoever gets the most votes wins a thousand pounds.  God, it’s delicious!  I don’t mean the food, though I’m sad enough to have tried one or two of the recipes – goats’ testicles tartlets with Gruyère anyone? No, it’s the houses that fixate me and especially the kitchens.  How do they do it?  How does a shelf-stacker  from Stockton-on-Fleas, Back of Beyond, manage to be in possession of my dream bespoke kitchen with a granite-topped centre island big enough to line dance on?  How did she come by that double Butler sink?  And, aaaagggh, an Aga! Not fair! I would give my right arm for an Aga, though I appreciate that might make operating it a bit difficult.

Smeg appliances! I ask you! These people have Smeg appliances. How come they have Smeg appliances? All chromey and shiny and desirable. How come I don’t! How come my retro fridge is the genuine article, an old banger with a faulty thermostat and an arthritic cough?  How come theirs is stuffed full of Pâté de foie gras, fine French cheeses and Champagne and I’m just stuffed because mine has broken down again and my gone-off fish fingers are sticking themselves up at me two at a time?

   My belief is truly beggared. And yet I can’t stop watching. And envying. And willing them to burn the bum off their confit de canard or accidentally catch their head in a food processor. Mind you, I think perhaps more than one did catch their head in a food processor or, at the very least, a combine harvester at some time or another. What else but a severe brain injury would prompt them to go on TV in front of millions of jeering, jealous people like me and show off their . . . gorgeous spotless kitchens?  How come they are always spotless, with pristine tea-towels , matching crockery and every conceivable type of gadget?  In a recent programme, one contestant had a machine that actually stripped the strings from her green beans – and it wasn’t even her husband.  Another managed to cut her thumb off with a Henckel kitchen knife, which was really upsetting as those knives cost a fortune. She didn’t even bother to wash it before rushing off to the hospital with her digit squashed between two ice packs. Self! Self! Self! Some people are downright disgusting.

The whole thing makes me feel morally superior. Sneerily superior.  It’s a Christians and lions thing, with the host of the night playing the Christian and the others gearing up to give him, or her, the mauling of a lifetime.  I find myself talking to the TV, as the host removes the cat they cremated earlier from the Aga of my fantasies, scrapes off the burnt bit, lobs on a lump of cream and ‘artfully’ criss-crosses  a couple of chives.

Then, at last, comes the bit, admit it, we’ve all been waiting for.  The lions move in for the kill, sharpening their claws on the Henckel knives, baring long vicious teeth, between which can be seen the remnants of burnt canard de wotsit.  The ambush is short and brutal and, when the smoke clears, the poor host, torn limb from limb, looks up with a big smile. ‘Well, I think that went really well.’ You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

In my own kitchen, the fish fingers a la salmonella are still swearing at me. Come Dine With Me? Come die with me, more like.

A Sad Affair

Recently my mind was much exercised by the question of whether to embark on an affair, whilst I could still walk without benefit of a Zimmer frame and climb the stairs as a biped, instead of on all fours. Mind you, judging from the number of programmes that have aired recently concerning the frolicking s of geriatrics, neither seems to be an impediment, more like a positive advantage. ‘Fancy swinging from the old Zimmer Frame, Harry?’ ‘Assume the stair position, Joan. Second from the top.’  See what I mean? In fact it surprises me that no one has yet thought to bring out a Kama Sutra aimed solely at the aged. A Hundred And One Things To Do With Your Oxygen TankA Stannah Made For Two. All Trussed Up  – Hilarious Hernia Fun.  Truss me, there’s a market there. Go on, take it to the Dragons’ Den.

Regardless, I was faced with the dilemma of whether or not to cheat on my husband, soul mate and father of my two sons. Actually, he’s not the father of my children, but he is definitely my soul mate. So, why you might wonder would I want to do the dirty on him? I don’t, in fact. But, good grief, every second person I meet seems to ‘be at it’ and I can’t help wondering if I’m missing out in some way. You see, I was always slow to catch on to the latest trend and it’s left me with a bit of a complex. I mean, I was still wearing loudly patterned bell-bottoms and tank tops when everyone else had graduated to skin-tight denim jeans and acres of cleavage. And, whisper it, my musical tastes haven’t moved on from Donny Osmond yet and he’s a grandfather!

Fact! I still want to be a member of the cool gang and if that means hanky-pankying behind my innocent husband’s back – tough! Right, morals despatched, there remains the issue of finding Mr Wrong. I waited in this morning to catch a glimpse of our postman, as tradition has it that postmen and milkmen invariably deliver more than letters and pintas. We don’t have a milkman and the postman turned out to be a post woman. ‘Don’t knock it, till you’ve bi’ed it,’ a friend of mine used to say, but she was the kind of person no one ever listened to. Not even her girlfriend and boyfriend.

‘Have an affair with your own husband,’ another friend suggested. ‘You know, put the spark back in your marriage, Ann Summers and stuff. Vibro rabbits.’

Naughty nurses and rabbit stew. Worth a try! I didn’t have a naughty nurse’s uniform, but I did have a pair of fishnets, which is vaguely in the same ball park. I unearthed them from beneath a mountain of M&S belly-warmers and pulled them on. No fish were harmed, but I caught a whale and, since he’s a member of Green Peace, this would only result in making my husband blubber. I ripped them off and turned my attention to part two – rabbit stew, which went also went for a burton when I discovered that nobody on the planet appears to stock Vibro rabbit. I complained to my friendly local butcher, who had the cheek to laugh. I wouldn’t mind, only you should see the state of his lamb shanks.

So here I am, no further along on my quest for infidelity, still wrestling with the idea of having an extra marital affair. In the meantime, though, my husband has surprised me by suggesting, with a twinkle in his eye, that we liven up our evenings with a game or two. Chess? Scrabble? Monogamy, anyone?  Tis a sad affair.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Woman

Well it’s finally happened. I’ve disappeared. Fallen beneath the radar.  Technically, I’ve not yet flat lined, in so much as I still have a pulse. But in terms of sex appeal and visibility, I am body-bagged and on my way to the morgue. Bye bye, Louis Vuitton. Au revoir mon amie, Chanel. From now on it’s toe-labels all the way and a nice line in grey plastic, with a full length zipper.

I was warned it would happen, of course, by ‘women-of-a-certain-age’ sidling up with bitter faces and sepulchral voices. I didn’t notice them at first, which is exactly the point they were trying to make. They were ‘the disappeared’. No one noticed them anymore. Men, in particular, looked past, even men so pig ugly they’d be lucky to attract the attentions of a pig ugly lady pig. Why? Because they had committed the cardinal sin of reaching (be still my hyperventilating heart) the age of . . .  no! I’m not going to tell you that.

‘Be gone, crones!’ I ordered, smug in the knowledge that, unlike those wrinkled old escapees from the wonderful world of moisturiser, I was forever beyond obscurity. I would always be seen, heard, lusted after and counted, which is why it came as something of a shock to find myself ignored in the supermarket the other evening as Chantelle gossiped with Tracey Anne, over on t’other till. Judging by the way Our Trace looked straight through me and my basket of shopping, I had become invisible. This suspicion grew legs when a bus sped merrily past me at the bus stop, though I stuck my hand out in the required fashion and performed an impromptu Saint Vitus dance for emphasis. Bemused, I trudged two miles home, unaware that a hole had developed in my plastic shopping bag and that I was leaking great globs of cottage cheese.  Home, sweet home, where, at least, I was assured of a warm welcome. The front door opened upon my approach releasing a whirlwind that knocked me and my leaking shopping bag flat on my back. Seems, I had become invisible to my son too, who shot off with nary so much as a grunt of apology. Neither did things improve when a couple of God botherers showed up at the door. Ironically, I was actually pleased to see them, although the feeling was not mutual as they looked straight past to my husband, who has effortlessly retained his visibility, despite being a full ten years older than yours truly.

Ignored by the JWs. That’s got to be a first. Seriously upset, I downed a bottle of wine – yes, a full one, and took myself off to bed where I had my Road to Damascus experience. Strictly speaking, it was a Road to Oblivion experience.  What I had failed to appreciate is that I am actually standing on the threshold of a whole new world. A world of infinite and exciting possibilities. A world of guilt-free shoplifting, a world of meddling in other people’s affairs, a world of committing the most heinous of crimes and getting away scot-free. For I am one of the newly ‘disappeared’ shrouded in a cloak of invisibility.  And, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?