Friday 29 August 2008

Vive Versailles

Another day, another instalment of my fabulous weekend a Paree – alas it is almost a week since I was there…

Did I mention I visited the Palace of Versailles – and very fancy it is, too.
There’s loads to see including a gigantic chair that ladies slept in sitting up (apparently it was the fashion in those days, which is why the beds were so short) and a rather expansive gardens. In fact, you would have to see it for yourself to realise just what a complete understatement the above statement is!

French Cousin 2 and I got up very early for our anticipated visit and were greeted with rain – beaucoup de pleut in fact! We took a double-decker underground train to Versailles, dodged the MASSIVE queue and strolled right in – French Cousin 2 has been taught well by French Aunt at this sort of thing.

Now, much of the tour is done on an audio headphone thingy so French Cousin 2 thought she’d ask for a transcript for me only to be told that such a thing did not exist and no one had ever enquired after one before. Deaf people apparently do not visit Versailles.

So, we had to make do with our sight only and this proved to be very useful at dodging the very annoying tourists who were EVERYWHERE and taking pictures of EVERYTHING! One of them actually pushed French Cousin 2 out of the way to get a picture of a fireplace.

But, all that aside, Versailles really was incredible! Outside was very deaf friendly! There was the loudest music playing in the grounds – it was so loud that I nearly fell over in fact! It really helped set the scene and I half expected to see Louis XIV hiding in the bushes with Marie Antoinette.

There were fountains, too. Incredible, massive, humongous and very very old fountains – all still working amazingly well on their original, and vast, pipework.

In true French style, we picnicked. French Cousin 2 had been very organised and made it all that morning. I wolfed down my baguette with jambon et fromage that I had been thinking about since breakfast time and it was delicious.

The Palace of Versailles really is a massive place – to look at, to walk around (my feet can confirm) and to take in – it’s left quite an imprint on my mind.
This morning for example, I walked past Buckingham Palace and thought, ‘Oooh what a cute little cottage.’


Wednesday 27 August 2008

Life on Mars

What do you get if you cross a mad scientist with a strange looking Russian woman dressed in tin foil, some political propaganda and a stupid self-loving musician with no respect for the hearing, the deaf or even the dead?!
Well, aside from an ugly, overly amorous French man snoring the deckchair in front of me, you also get Aelita.

Now, for those of you who don’t know – that’s you, me and the rest of the World, I think – Aelita was the first film made by one of the pioneers of the Russian cinema, Yakov Protazanov, after his return from Europe, where he remained during difficult times of Russian Civil War of 1918–1922.

Aelita is a propagandistic story, told in what is basically a sci-fi film attempting to proliferate communist ideas, and it is based on a Sci-fi novel by Alexei Tolstoy. Are you asleep yet?

If you were watching the movie to a different soundtrack to what we had, you wouldn’t be but I can only describe the soundtrack we endured as akin to being locked in the boiler cupboard of a cruise ship with a flute and a saxophone for company and a man who only knew three notes on each!

Let me first set the scene – the scene I was in, not that our dear Aelita was in. French Cousin 2 and Mustard Boy are those enviable Parisians who soak up culture on a daily basis in the same way people over here soak up gin and tonics, although to be fair they are quite fond of a tipple or two.
And, just around the corner from their lovely flat is this incredible restaurant/bar/club/terrace and prairie!


Yes, they turned the top floor into a prairie, covered the floor with fake grass, installed a few water features and filled the place with deckchairs and hammocks – there’s even the essential bar serving cocktails. And this, after our eclectic meal downstairs complete with the rudest waitress ever, was where Aelita graced us with her presence.

So, onto the movie… Meet Los, a scientist, who is married to Natasha and working on a spaceship capable of going to Mars. For entertainment value, the Russian Civil War is raging and people are starving.

In the midst of this are a whole host of other characters portraying communist ideal against bourgeois wealth… I got a bit lost to be honest so stole a chocolate brownie of Mustard Boy.

While all this happens on Earth, we also get to see what’s happening on Mars, naturally! On the red planet, there’s regime similar to that of Egyptian pharaohs, where the working class, represented by the slaves, suffers under tyrannical regime of the ruling class. Heck, they took it so far that even the King looks like Cleopatra! And the slaves were stored in a refrigerated unit – although I don’t really know why. French Cousin 2 explained however, that this was to illustrate how disposable the rulers saw society to be.

It's from this delightful planet that Martian princess Aelita observes the life of Los and, as a result, wants to kiss him. I have no idea why she wants this… Los is by no means wonderful – he’s as attractive as an anorexic Herman Munster, has the charisma of lettuce bathed in olive oil and harbours murderous intentions towards his wife.

To be fair, he thinks his wife is having an affair with a rich man so he shoots her and then sets of in his spaceship to Mars with a man dressed up as a woman and a white rat.

Upon arrival, there’s a slave uprising and revolution, which results in the establishing of the Soviet Republic of Mars! The end?

Well it was for me, as it was at this point that the music got so loud and unbearable that I fell into a coma. But apparently, according to French Cousin 2, Los returns and finds his wife is not dead and she forgives him. They were, it seems, as fond as Hollywood endings as um… Hollywood are – except I have just remembered that French Cousin 2 told me that Los tries to kill his wife again… romantic fellow isn’t he!

Just incase my careful synopsis doesn’t have you dashing out to HMV to buy your own copy of the movie… does anyone fancy watching Aelita with me so I can see how it ended?

Tuesday 26 August 2008

I left my heart in Paris

I had a lovely time visiting French Cousin 2 at the weekend and her man, Mustard Boy. I also had the pleasure of seeing French Cousin 1 and his GIRLF, too. And then, as a complete surprise to all of us, French Cousin 3 dropped by… from Stuttgart

Luckily I had bought lots of chocolate raisins.

Now, this post could have almost been called ‘I left my heart in Brussels’ because the 19.32 to Paris Nord goes from the adjacent platform to the 19.34 to Brussels. So excited was I on Friday night that I wasn’t really paying any attention. I showed my ticket to the nice lady, marched up the moving ramp to my train and got into carriage 3.

Now luckily, I am vaguely paranoid about getting on the wrong train on account of my hearing because while a non-deaf person might get on the Brussels train, they probably wouldn’t stay on it due to a lovely announcement telling them of the destination. I, however, would discover my new weekend-break destination on arrival!

But as I was saying, luckily I am paranoid about these things so I stuck my head out the door and squinted to the other end of the platform to see what the sign said… ‘Brussels’!


Cue frantic scrabble for suitcase, book, mobile phone, coat, carrier bag with M&S picnic in, Arrow Word book (shhh don’t tell The Writer) and a mad dash across the platform. Luckily I made it – but I was so unconvinced that I was on the right train after that debacle that I was only happy when I saw the Paris Nord sign and not one that read Abu Dahbi or Timbuktu.

So Paris was great but I can’t tell you about it all today as that would take far too long. There was Versailles, Saint Chapelle, and a 1920s silent movie from Russia that saw the founding of the Soviet Union of Mars that was screened in an indoor park with hammocks and deckchairs – and that… deafinitely deserves a post of its own.

Monday 25 August 2008

from my Pinkberry

It is a lovely bank holiday today and I'm still marvelling at how great the eurostar is at speeding people so effortlessly from France to here and back. I'd love to wax lyrical about it but I can't as I'm still struggling with my Pinkberry keyboard on which I am currently writing this! Beeb Boy warned me it was tricky and he wasn't lying... Gone are the days of speedy flippant, but well-punctuated, texts! Now you'll be lucky to get two words that make sense! So that's the end of today's post -apologies for any errors, the automatic zoeller is so cocky it thinks it can read my mind and my thn umb is conviced that z is the button for s! Until tomorrow...!

Friday 22 August 2008

Exciting news!

Fab Friend has contacted me from Peru… she commented on this very blog to say hello and that she was having a lovely time (see Holiday!). I was very pleased to hear from her as she seems, and is, very far away.

But, when my Pinkberry flashed up an alert with her note, it could have been as though she was just around the corner from me, in her lovely London flat.

The internet is great like that – no more echoey (ugly word!) phone lines across the Seven Seas telling us she had arrived safely. Instead, a Facebook status update and a Peruvian hit on my blog visitor counter!

On the bus this morning, I was confined to the ground floor because my Parisian suitcase is extremely heavy – it is stuffed to the brim with Golden Syrup, chocolate raisins and crumpets galore – and I find that being stuck down there does not allow for creative thought or writing, so I let my mind wander.

I began to think, as my Pinkberry buzzed through a pointless email, what it would be like if I went on one of those budget TV shows where you have to give up something that really matters. You know the ones I’m talking about!

I once watched one where a Z-list pop star had to give up make-up for a week… once she’d scraped and steamed it all off, it was quite plain to see why she wore so much in the first place. Natural beauty had not graced her face – I considered sending a trowel and some industrial wall filler to her agent.

Anyway, I think those nasty TV peeps would deafinitely make me give up electronic communication – either that or salad and baked beans for tea, but let’s be honest here, the latter would not make riveting viewing.

That would mean: no mobile – so no texting, and no computer – so no email, Google, online booking, and internet in general. In short, I would be screwed!

I would start my day sleeping through, as my mobile is my back-up vibrating alarm clock. Then I would be in trouble at work as couldn’t phone to say I was going to be late. Then I would spend the whole day getting everything wrong, as without computers, everything would have to be done on that beastly telephone.

I would cry, scream, shout and stamp and probably spend the next 20 years cringing over my cornflakes about my shocking TV debut.

Thankfully, this will never happen, so I’m off to Google the Parisian weather forecast and email my Pa as he’s been poorly.

Au revoir et grosse bises!

Thursday 21 August 2008

Deaf or not deaf?

Today I was on the bus listening to the Gabe Dixon Band on my new Pinkberry. I have to have it playing quite loud so was very worried about other passengers getting cross – no one sat next to me the whole journey.

I turned it down, still no one sat next to me – so I turned it back up.

Halfway through the journey a ticket inspector boarded the bus and asked to see everyone’s ticket – I have my disabled one – I had headphones in my ears and I could see him eyeing me trying to work out what I’ve got…

It made me feel a bit of a fraud…

If I have trouble believing my deafness, what of other people? Do they think I am a fraud, too? When I achieve something do people question whether I really am deaf?

I had these worries, thoughts and questions for all of five seconds because on getting off the bus I nearly got run over by a police car, didn’t hear a bloke asking me to move out of the way and blanked a colleague in the street.

I am deafinitely deaf alright.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Thinking of Adrian

If you only do one thing today, I ask that you click on the sidebar link to Baldy's Blog and have a read. It was written by a 25-year-old journalist called Adrian Sudbury, who was diagnosed leukaemia a while back, and who has since campaigned effortlessly to get people to sign up to the bone marrow register.

I'd never met Adrian but found out about him through his widely-publicised campaign.
When I clicked on Baldy's Blog to read his daily post today, as I always do, I found out that he died this morning.

Have a read about what he did and what he thought and I think you'll find it inspirational. He gave me much food for thought and although I hate hospitals I think joining the bone-marrow register is something I am now going to do.

And it's not just me he convinced either...
perhaps he'll convince you, too.

My day's been aura-lly challenged

The weirdest thing happened to me on the bus this morning – someone sat on my aura…


Yes, that’s what I thought, too. But she definitely did and it was quite unpleasant.

Now, for those of you with filthy minds, let me first just clarify what an aura is. According to the dictionary, it can be, amongst other things ‘the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person’

I first came across the notions of auras at school during activities week – a shocking infliction that came about at the end of the summer term and involved the forced signing-up for daily jaunts around the Gloucestershire countryside or in my case, a massage course, which was my final activity of the week.

The other activity spanned the first three days and was called Creative Cake Baking. Now, bearing in mind I was banned from doing Home Economics GCSE for fear of bringing the league tables down, I was surprised to get a place on this. I was a panicky baker in those days and everything tended to go wrong.

I decided to make an upright piano cake, which involved lots and lots of ready rolled icing and brown food colouring – it was all going swimmingly until I dropped the keyboard.


Anyway, by the time the massage course started I was in need of one myself and so Best-Friend-From-School and I threw ourselves into it with gusto. The woman teaching us was a bit flaky and looked like she ate compost for breakfast. The first thing she told us to do was rub our hands together and feel each other’s auras – now, in today’s climate, the Government inspectors would have been called in for that comment, the school closed and Compost Woman carted off for a long time to a camp for unsuitables before she had a chance to explain the innocence of the situation.

But do you know what, she totally convinced me that auras exist – they’re kind of like a personal space and mine gets bigger and smaller according to how comfortable I am in a situation.

This morning, I was tired and needing sleep and so my aura was quite large and possibly radiating onto the seat next to me – my bad I guess, as it meant that when this woman – clearly without any sort of aura – sat down beside me, she sat on it. And, even though there were loads of other places she could have moved to as the bus gradually emptied out, she didn’t.

It was the most claustrophobic ride of my life. I silently willed her to move but knew I couldn’t say anything to her. After all, what kind of nutter says to their neighbour on the bus, ‘Excuse me, could you move please, you’re sat on my aura.’

And, on that note, I am off to check the palms of my hands for hair…

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Hopelessly addicted to…

Today, O2 is my favourite company in the whole world! I still think its online services for deaf people are positively appalling, but the staff in O2’s shops are amazing. One guy in particular has made my day – after all, it’s because of him that I have a nice shiny new PINK phone, which does everything I want it to… and more!

After several emails to O2, which appeared to be falling on deaf ears (ah-ha-ha-ha) I was getting a bit frustrated and my old phone was starting to die at a rapid rate. But then I went climbing with Beeb Boy and he told me he’d got a great deal with O2 with internet and everything and a nice shiny Blackberry to go with it!

Now, as you know, I have been hankering after an iPhone for quite some time but, as you also know, these only come in uniform black, which isn’t very, um… ME. But did you know Blackberry make a Pinkberry!?

So, it was this I set my sights on and after a little bit of research I tripped my way, rather elegantly, into The Rents’ local O2 shop. There I explained my predicament, ‘No online help, lots of emails, everyone ignoring me, broken phone, loyal customer, yah, yah, yah, sob, sob sob.’ And the guy called them straight up to sort it for me!

Even he got the picture of how frustrating O2 online is after the fourth time the dim-witted imbecile at the other end of the phone asked to speak to me. There are only so many ways of explaining someone is hard of hearing and I thought this guy did pretty well!

So, to cut a long story short, he bargained away until they slashed some prices and threw in some stuff for free and now I honestly think that even if I could hear and make the call myself, I couldn’t have done it better.

I’ve only had my phone for 24 hours and I am already hooked – so hooked in fact, that I can totally see why they call it a Crackberry in America...

I must not check my email every five seconds
I must not check my email every five seconds
I must not check my email every five seconds…

Oh sod it…

Sunday 17 August 2008

Spectacular Speculoos

I finally got to taste the much anticipated Speculoos paste at the weekend and have been eating it out of the jar ever since. It's possibly one of the most delicious and moreish things I have ever tasted and I have already been contemplating and planning various culinary experiments centred around it. What a shame that my chief taster, Shakira-Shakira, is currently sunning herself on a Turkish beach – it's so tasty that I am not sure I can guarantee any remaining on her return.

It has the wonderful consistency of smooth peanut butter and taste-bud explosion of sugar, sweet, spice and and what can only be described as GOO. I am planning to whip it into butter icing for a gingerbread loaf, make a Speculoos ice-cream smoothie, and I've also already discovered that it tastes quite nice with lettuce and cucumber.

I am wondering if it might taste nice added to chicken stir fry but as I cannot guarantee it and it's not available over here, I am not going to risk it and waste it on what could potentially be worse than the microwave-sponge incident.

My visit to the rents was great... not only did they turn a blind eye to me eating Speculoos paste out of jar with a long-handled teaspoon, they also took me to see a place called Foxton Locks - which has 10 locks in a staircase that takes a canal boat 55 minutes to go up or down. It was absolutely fascinating and my inner geek got a splendid day out! I am also glad to still be here after tripping and hurtling towards the fast-draining, sure-fire-way-of-drowning lock number 5. Thankfully I was saved from my stumble from my Ma - her blood pressure is only just back to normal... I think.

And now, I am back in The Smoke, and very rested, too – partly aided by my first class ticket down on the train this morning - it really was the cheapest ticket available, how cool is that! I could definitely get used to travelling this way – there was a free newspaper, orange juice and something that should have been tea but that tasted more like coffee – although I am not altogether sure it was either. There was also so much space that I was almost sad that the journey back from my Rents is such a short one...

And now, I am back – ready for the week ahead and my imminent trip to Paris to see French Cousin and Mustard Boy.
C'est bon, c'est trés, trés bon!

Friday 15 August 2008


I am currently writing this from the sun-drenched countryside, a fresh brew of tea is in the pot, there are cats sleeping in a sunny spot in the kitchen, a tractor has just ambled past and I am chewing on a piece of hay. Honestly, the last bit is made up, but I can see a whole field of hay so if I did want to complete the stereotypical country view, it would be possible... just not that pleasant.

What it is about our surroundings that affects the mental pictures that we build? If I was writing this from a penthouse flat in New York, I would probably have my take-out coffee by my side, a small yappy dog nearby and a maid turning down my bed. Likewise, thinking about Fab Friend in Peru right now, I imagine her at a computer with a plait in her hair, tanned and fab, about to hit the beach 'til sundown.

It's not just situations that we can build up whole, often imaginary pictures, about though. Quite often I will build entire mental lives for people I see, without even having spoken to them, not in a nasty way either, just giving them a character based on their appearance. Do hearing people do this, too? Someone must let me know. I was just wondering whether, in that first, fleeting conversation, if you, like me are building more of a visual picture, than one based on what the person is saying?

I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing to do though. It's not judgemental as long as you don't let it get in the way of the person who you are really talking to.

Take the other day, I was out with someone and a tune came on that I recognised. 'Oh, it's David Gray,' I remarked. 'I thought you were deaf,' was his reply. A bit shocked I explained that I was deaf but could hear some stuff. 'It's black and white for me,' he said. 'You're either deaf or you're not.'

So shocked was I, that I didn't even stand up for myself. What I did realise though that was, in those first fleeting moments when he found out about my hearing loss, he built a mental picture. And, rather than letting that change with time as he got to know me, he kept trying to get me to fit it. And, do you know what, it didn't work.

I too had built a mental picture of him in those first, fleeting moments and, it taught me just how wrong those mental pictures can be.

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrow…

…there will be no post as I am having a day off work and ranting!
Instead I will be out and about harvesting new ideas, shouting at the TV for the shocking subtitles of the Olympic coverage and hoping for a sunshiney day!


Remember, remember

Ever had a memory triggered because of a certain smell? It’s very common apparently.
Let’s start with a nice bit of science for you… hmmm, actually scrap that – I was never very good at science and all I can find on Google is a lot of complicated stuff that I don’t get. The long and short of it is that when you smell something, your brain often links it to the situation you were in when you smelt it – for example chlorine may make you think of school swimming lessons, curry – university, cheese – your first boyfriend’s feet… etc etc.

Now, while smells do trigger some memories for me, it’s actually sounds that trigger the most – more importantly, music. Weird huh!

Take the other day for example. There I was, driving back from London Aunt’s house when Hazard by Richard Marx came on the radio – something of a regular occurrence if you listen to Heart I think.

Anyway, it catapulted me back, as if by magic, to the early 90s when it first came out, and all these images flashed before my eyes of me and Jenny M, my favourite red jeans from Tammy Girl (they were the height of fashion… kind of) and the last Christmas disco before I changed schools.

It was amazing, it could have been yesterday, and for the remainder of the journey, I reminisced with a big grin on my face.

Then, at work, there’s a song that always comes on the radio – the name of which I don’t know – but it was on a Rosemary Connelly workout video that I bought when I was a teenager. Now, whenever I hear it, I can visualise me dancing around my Rents’ old living room in cycling shorts and a granddad top (the 90s were not great for fashion – Fab Friend did a good line in Lumberjack shirts and leggings apparently). Anyway I can still remember the arm movements and found myself absentmindedly doing them at my desk the other day.


It’s not just about what sounds trigger memories either, it’s my memory of sounds! I can remember the sounds of things that I can’t hear anymore such as an old music box I had as a child, cats meowing and phones ringing. If someone tells me that a sound is occurring, I will often hear it in my head once I know what it is. But seeing as I last heard a phone ring in the 80s and it was an old bell one, I hear the brring, brring of a circular-dial telephone for even the most modern-looking phones.

I guess in many ways, my memory isn’t deaf even though I now am – how cool is that? It’s like I can sidestep into it and hear things again. When I play my flute, my teacher often plays the tune an octave lower so I can hear it, commit it to memory and then transpose it up an octave in my head – my memory does that! It remembers the pitch, the order and the rise and fall of the notes.

Phew, thank goodness I remembered to collect something good before I was born… I may have been busy collecting my ‘taste for expensive handbags’ instead of my hearing and sight senses but I clearly remembered to get memory, too.


Monday 11 August 2008

My weather obsession

It would seem that I am officially obsessed with the weather and it’s doing my head in. I can’t seem to hold a single conversation with anyone without bringing it up – mainly because it’s depressing me so much.

Rather alarmingly, I have started to talk to myself about the weather too, although I would like to reassure you that this is not the first sign of madness I have displayed. Last night, driving home from London Aunt’s with the rain pelting down, I found myself giving a running commentary on the puddles, the flooding and the crazy bad-weather driving that was occurring up ahead… to who? God knows, but I must have looked totally barmy.

When I was about 7 years old I fell for that old trick of someone telling you that if you had hairy palms you were mad, so I inspected mine closely, and then BAM – I had a sore nose as someone smacked my hand into my face. It hurt, and I was upset – but I went off and, with glee and no guilt, found someone as gullible as me to try it out on. Kids are weird aren’t they?

But anyway, back to the weather – what is going on? Last week I was fantasising about winter food and this weekend I was thinking about buying thick woolly cardigans – it’s all wrong.

And, it would seem that all my London Friends share this view. Shakira-Shakira has escaped to Turkey for some beach hip-shaking fun, with The Writer set to join her next week. Fab Friend leaves for Peru tomorrow for some guaranteed heat – although Machu Whatsit might by a bit chilly as it’s very high up. NikNak has Country Boy to keep her warm, The Photographer is living it up in Sweden and Friend-Who-Knows-Big-Words is off to France…

As for me – well I have Paris to look forward to and in the meantime, I am going to my Rent’s house. I don’t need a passport to get there, nor is the weather forecast any more optimistic than the one in London… but there’s an open fire, plenty of home-cooked food on offer and a big Ma-hug waiting for me. What could be better than that?

Friday 8 August 2008

Friday rambling!

Those who know what I do for job, will know that it requires using a dictionary rather a lot. The one we have in our office is gigantic and has lots of words in it that I have never heard of. But do you know what – nearly every time I open it to hunt for a word, it opens on one that takes me back to A-level English Literature, which is ‘pathetic fallacy’.

The dictionary definition is ‘the presentation of inanimate objects in nature as possessing human feelings’, and if my memory serves me right, Shakespeare was a fan. But then I didn’t really hear much of my A-level classes.

It’s a wonderfully fabulous word to roll of the tongue too, I find. Go on try it yourself – although be prepared for people to look at you oddly! So anyway, today when I opened the dictionary, there was pathetic fallacy staring back at me from the top right-hand corner of the page, and in pencil, right beside it was the word, ‘Hello!’

It left me chuckling for a good few minutes as now the word pathetic fallacy in the inanimate location of the dictionary has been displayed as possessing human feelings! Confused? Great!

So anyway, as it’s Friday, that means it’s time for my usual post of why I am happy today and what I’m thankful for – and today is no different!

Today I am thankful for British bank holidays, the Eurostar, and French Aunt moving to France. All this means that I get to go to Paris to visit French Cousin for the bank-holiday weekend at the end of this month, eat baguette, squeal when I see the Eiffel Tower and do my Carrie run – hopefully minus the horse manure and the bastardly Alexandr Petrovsky!

I love Paris – French Cousin lives in a wonderfully Bohemian area in a fabulous flat with Mustard Boy, her man – he’s from Dijon. It’s small but perfectly formed (the flat), although getting in the shower takes special manoeuvring.

Last time I visited, they threw a magnificent house party with beaucoup d’alcohol and half way through the night they decided to see how many people they could fit in the metre square kitchen. The end tally made London Underground at rush hour look roomy.

It’s also a great place to gather blog material as I don’t really understand English with a French accent, and while I can speak French, I can’t hear the response. Last time I was there I found there was a Turkish shop near French Cousin’s house and spoke Turkish to them. Apparently they still ask after the crazy blonde English girl who came in speaking Turkish, so I will have to go and say hello!

This time around, French Cousin is going to show me more of Paris and I can’t wait. I will pack my beret and a host of exciting English food for French Cousin and Mustard Boy (he particularly favours crumpets and chocolate raisins) and embark on my awfully big adventure.

Thursday 7 August 2008

Oh summer, summer wherefore art thou summer?

I have spent the entire morning thinking about food. Perhaps it was yesterday’s post on Speculoos that set me off, or just that fact that I like food so much – but whatever the reason, there has been barely a moment of my free-thinking time that I haven’t been salivating over thoughts of shepherd’s pie, lasagne. Good old winter recipes.

And that’s the weird thing, here I am sat here on 7 August, and I am thinking about food more suited to deepest darkest October. What is going on? The air conditioning is disguising the heat outside, which is frankly quite oppressive this week, so that could be why the grey skies are implying a different season altogether to the one we are in.

But in August I should be dreaming of exotic salad dressing recipes and exciting ways to cook tuna – it really is NOT on.

*exasperated squeak

It’s started raining now, too!

I am quite a stubborn person so have continued to eat salads even it’s too grey and wet, and I have kept my flipflops by my bed, even though it’s my furry slippers I find I am reaching for, to try and force myself to believe that summer really is here.

And then today, I read a book called Little Miss Stubborn And The Unicorn as it was on my desk and realised she was a lot like me. She refuses to believe that the unicorn exists even though all the other Mr Men and Little Miss meet it and tell her. She stomps and shouts and generally behaves very badly.

*sheepish blush

I don’t have a blue nose, fat round body or strange stringy hair like Little Miss Stubborn but I will do something just to prove a point. And, Fab Friend made me realise on Sunday that I may take this to extremes at times as I got on some high horse about deaf rights. But in my defence, the gin & tonics were lethal!

*shameful blush

In the light of this, I thought I should go in search of a new Little Miss Persona…
I considered Little Miss Sunshine – but she looks a bit jaundiced and is always nice to everyone – how exhausting! Then Little Miss Naughty – but I am a bit rubbish at being naughty and always seem to follow rules. And suddenly it hit me, Little Miss Chatterbox – I AM HER! She never, ever shuts up – and even gets a job as the talking clock for the telephone.

I think I am happy with that!

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Spectacular Speculoos

Exciting news! I won a competition!

*beaming smile

My prize is, rather wonderfully, a jar of spreadable biscuit.

‘Eh?’ I hear you say. ‘Spreadable biscuit?’

I am so intrigued by this product that I simply can’t wait to try it! Apparently it tastes like those little spiced ginger biscuits you get free with your coffee when you’re on holiday in Europe. I like them so much that I always try to steal everyone else’s, too. Those biscuits are called Speculoos and this spreadable version has the wonderful name of Pâté de Speculoos Pasta. Can anyone tell me why the word Pasta is there? Does it taste nice on pasta? Can’t imagine it would… but then I like baked beans on lettuce and marmite and salad cream on toast, so I am willing to try anything once!

The Writer and I are eagerly anticipating its arrival, as we’re both a bit in wonder at what it will taste like. We’re also anxious about whether it will make it to the Big Smoke as it’s going via Ma and Pa’s house in the country and if they get wind of what it is, it might be spread on their toast instead of mine!


It’s lovely winning competitions though. I once entered one at Harrods when I was about 7 and forgot all about it. The prize was a giant doll and one day the doorbell range and there was the postman with a massive box addressed to me! Remember that fab feeling of getting post when you were younger? I got it that day and to be honest, I still get it now even though I am practically a grown-up and I mostly get bills.

Housemate-From-Penthouse-Flat is doing an experiment at the moment. She’s got two children and one is only a few months old, so to wile away the midnight-breastfeeding hours, she reads rather a lot of trashy mags (real life trash not porn I should point out). Those familiar with these mags will know they carry wonderful headlines like, ‘A donkey chewed my big toe off in the bath’ and ‘Six kids by different fathers, but still a virgin’ etc etc…

Anyway, at the back of these magazines there are always lots of competitions and HFPF has decided to enter every single one for a month, to see if she wins anything. Unfortunately with mags of that calibre, the only things she’s likely to win are things like – a tattoo of your baby’s name on your right breast, a lifetime supply of microwavable chips and a pound-shop trolley dash.

I don’t hold out much hope for her but fingers crossed. I entered six different competitions by email last year to win a trip to New York and do you know what I got? A load of spam to my email address asking me if I’d like a bigger penis!
Hmmmmm this was not quite the prize I had in mind!

Tuesday 5 August 2008

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb?

I used to think just one, until last night, when POOF, my bedside light blew up for the second time in a week! When it happened the first time, I could see the filament in the bulb had gone so last night when Shakira-Shakira and I were in Asda, I bought a new box of bulbs.

Then, I dashed home and popped one in – and nothing happened. So I sat and pondered while watching One Tree Hill and finally decided to check the fuse. I’ve got a rather large collection of fuses on account of the hoover and iron episode last month. I replaced it and proclaimed, ‘Let there be light!’ in my best God voice. And there was, for about 1 second – before POOF, it blew again.

Perhaps it’s my electric personality, I don’t know – but everything electrical I touch at the moment seems to break or blow up. First it was the iron – there I was ironing my favourite jacket in preparation for my visit to the zoo (see Things I Know Now…) when I suddenly heard a POOF, fizzle, and a POP and a whisp of smoke came out of the iron – sadly, not followed by a genie.

It continued to smoke considerably so I unplugged it and put it in the bath, odd I know, but it seemed like the safest place for smouldering electrical equipment! Then, just two day’s later I was vacuuming the hall when SPLUTTER, GASP, GROAN, the hoover ground to a halt.


Praying it was the fuse and not something fatal, I dashed off to the hardware store down the road to stock up. But once home, it soon became clear the hoover was dead as a Dodo, kaput, stuffed, a goner. Cue, big Argos order…

Now, is it dodgy electrics, or am I doing to all these things? To be fair, the agency did come round and replace the iron- and hoover-killing plug socket – but what about my lamp? Am I negatively charged somehow? And if I am, can I turn this around to help cut my electricity bills and relieve me of my impending ‘fuel poverty’?

I’m not really sure if that’s the answer to be honest as it’s not just electrical stuff I have an adverse affect on. My poor mobile hates me so much that the display is now permanently upside down. This means that sending a text is a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. Bloody difficult. Perhaps I should stick to simple technology from now on, like Aga-heated irons, brooms, oil lamps and carrier pigeons. And, if I apply this to every aspect of my life, that means instead of hearing aids, I will have to get a nice shiny ear trumpet, like the one the grandma has in ’Allo ’Allo.

*Ediiiiiiiiiith? Ediiiiiiiiith?

Monday 4 August 2008

My Innocent weekend

My, what a weekend of change it’s been. First there was the arrival of New Housemate and then there was the weather!

Innocent’s Village Fete was on in Regents Park this weekend – it’s the social event of the year and having missed it the last two years, I was eager to check it out. The Writer is well connected don’t you know, so on Saturday Shakira-Shakira and I arrived as VNPs (Very Nice People) and made our way to the Secret Garden area where The Writer assured us food and drink in abundance would be waiting for us.

But Shakira-Shakira and I got a bit lost, and then it started to pour with rain, and then we got trapped by a Friends Of The Earth charity person – and nearly 2 hours later we finally arrived at the Secret Garden, tired, hungry and in need of a sit down.


And what a sight greeted us – there was tea and cake, Innocent smoothies on tap and the nicest, and possibly strongest, G&Ts I have ever had!
Naturally due to the rain, we stayed in the food and drink tent for quite some time and then, once the sun was shining again, we ventured out and it was lovely! There was live music, a helter-skelter that The Writer and I went on together with her shrieking, ‘Ow, I’m getting friction burns!’ the whole way down. I loved it and Fab Friend has photographic evidence of my big beaming smile as I hit the bottom – looking like a 5 year old!

Then, there was the secret after party – not suitable for 5 year olds – which had very loud music and left me feeling as though someone had stuffed a trumpet mute in each ear.

I returned to the fete on Sunday, tired and hungover, as a mortal with Lovely Freelancer and her friends and it was grey and dry, then rainy, then dry, then torrential downpours, and it continued like this all afternoon until I found myself hallucinating a nice cup of tea and a sit down. I was beginning to sway on my feet when I decided enough was enough and headed home for just that and some nice back-to-back episodes of Top Gear.

I do wonder if we’ll ever have a summer – I spent the whole weekend in winter clothes – alas I haven’t even burnt my nose this year…

Perhaps Deafinitely Girly should go on location for a bit, just temporarily to somewhere like Australia – I’m sure the accent would give me plenty of material and I’ve heard the weather’s lovely and warm.

I’m just off to daydream…

Friday 1 August 2008

Goodbye Lovely Housemate

On Friday I always seem to think about what I am thankful for and, not wanting to break the habit, today’s post is going to be similar.

I am thankful that we are finishing work at 4pm today – this gives me lots of time to go home and sort out the flat for New Housemate’s arrival and help Lovely Housemate move to her new pad.

I am also thankful that I met Lovely Housemate in our first flat four years ago. We met in a flatshare on the river with a psycho landlord and some equally bizarre housemates including one who thought an acceptable way of saying hello was ‘Who are you shagging?’. Thankfully he never got the chance to meet my parents and say, um, hello.

Then, we moved to another flat where we had our first pets, mice. There we waged an endless battle with the little blighters that I think in all honesty they won. They were such frequent visitors that they had worn a bit of carpet down by their entrance to the lounge. Lovely eh?

On one occasion I came out of my room to find a mouse in the hall between mine and Lovely Housemate’s door – and I screamed, probably very loudly. Lovely Housemate flew out her room to see what was going on, saw the mouse, and flew back in again, with a scream to rival mine.

Thankfully, there was a man in the house at the time who took care of the situation and took the poor bewildered and, probably deafened from all the screaming, mouse outside.

If New Housemate is reading this – I would like to confirm that there are NO mice in our current flat. It’s been good to us, this little flat – it’s seen its fair share of dramas and the flat below has joyfully shared occasions such as belly dancing evenings and drunken meals at 3am with us. They love us in the flat downstairs, honest!

I shall miss Lovely Housemate – she always says nice things about my cooking and is happy to be a taste tester for my cakes. More importantly she’s happy to be adventurous and try out new recipes such as Marmite and Salad Cream dip with crudités and oatcakes and microwave syrup sponge that looks more like a bath sponge than an edible one – it tasted pretty shocking, too – but then i had forgotten to add the eggs!

She’s also been the most amazing ears to me and I know that if the fire alarm was going off she’d rescue me. Having said that, I don’t really worry as she’s only living down the road, so she’ll probably be able to hear the fire alarm from there and I know that if I ever need ears, she’ll gladly step up to the job.

So it’s TaTa to the Lovely Housemate in this blog and she will forever more be known as Shakira-Shakira – come out with us on Saturday and you’ll see why!

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