Monday, July 31, 2006

One of those days

This weekend we went to my Cousin Patrick's wedding in Belfast. A jolly nice affair it was too, marred only by the catalogue of disasters that befell us constantly. Here goes...

We arrived at Edinburgh airport to find all the baggage conveyor belts broken in the check-in hall. Everyone's luggage was added to an ENORMOUS heap in the middle of the hall. It didn't make any difference if you were going to Belfast, Majorca or timbucktoo, all suitcases were thrown on to the heap.

We looked uneasily at the heap, dubious of the system the airport staff seemed to be employing but, trusting individuals we are, we added our own bag and went off to board the plane.

We were late setting off. The Captain announced this was because they were looking for 7 bags in the luggage pile. In the end we set off an hour late, sans bags.

At Belfast airport just 2 lonely bags were unloaded. 7 despondent groups of passengers stood hopefully gazing at the carousel, but it was not to be. We had a wedding to go to in 3 hours, and had no suitcase.

We collected our hire car and drove to the town where the wedding was to be. Ever the optimists we checked into the hotel and immediately went off shopping to find new clothes to wear. This was essential. Nick was wearing jeans and casual shirt, and I was wearing a T-shirt and faintly grubby trousers with flip flops.

Bangor, NI, is not a good place to go clothes shopping. The best place we found for decent clothes was Asda for Gods sake. Nick bought a shirt and trousers for £16. I bought a pashmina and necklace. Wee hoped our creative/media professions would explain away our slightly crumpled casual attire.

Unfortunately on the way back to the Hotel the heavens opening and we got drenched. I had no hairbrush, no hair dryer, no spare clothes, no make-up. A bus splashed my legs with black mud as we waited to cross the road. My over-long trousers soaked up the water on the pavements and were drenched up to mid shin height.

We went to the wedding looking awful but smiling enthusiastically. Nick may have been the only man with out a tie and jacket, but he had the biggest 'life is a bit shit but I'm still smiling' grin you've ever seen.

At the reception we were walking on the lawn. Nick said 'don't fall over Rach, you've got no other clothes to wear tomorrow.' Naturally I fell over 10 mins later and got a muddy arse. To compensate we dancedvigorouslyy at the disco with my 10 year old cousin.

That night I washed my t-shirt and pants in the sink ready for the next morning. They were still a bit damp and creased when I put them on but smelling nice at least. We collected our suitcase from the airport on the way home.

Great wedding though.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Computer maintenance

Any tips on how I can get coronation chicken out of my keyboard?

I have tried proggling* at it with the corner of a paper towel and have only succeeded in pushing it further in and smearing it about a bit under the keys.

*Proggling - see this post for definition

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I don't read horoscopes but, if I did, mine would say:

Today will bring you much heat but don't despair, fortune shines on the hot.

Today, despite being so really bloody fucking hot, has been financially very profitable. For some reason my boss decided to bestow apon me a nice little bonus in my pay packet. Totally out the blue! He said it was a 'Summer Bonus' so I didn't argue.

Secondly the local bookshop have placed a large order for my cards, as well as many gushing compliments, which are nearly as good as the cash she will pay me in. Ha haaaa. The only downside is I promised I would deliver them tomorrow, so tonight will see me hunched over my desk, burning the midnight oil, feverishly cutting and sticking and sewing til the order is complete.

At least it won't be so damned hot.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Nick and I have been harbouring a faint desire to keep some chickens in our back garden. Not wanting to jump in without considering all the pros and cons, we went to visit a friend of Nick's, Donald, who has quite a few hens and geese in a small field next to his house.

We had the full tour, an extensive lesson in poultry husbandry, and then delicious egg rolls for lunch.

It has really made us think about how 'normal' eggs are produced from battery hens. Even 'free range' eggs, which I always buy, are not actually that kind to chickens. The farmer has only to provide access to the outside but most of the chickens never find the pop-holes because there are not enough, they are too widely spaced, and there are too many hens in the barns.

Hens don't lay during the winter so farmers put strong lights in the batteries to trick the hens into laying all year round. This totally knackers the chicken. The farmers don't care though because battery hens are killed after 2 years when they start moulting. A hen can't lay eggs during her moult because her energy goes into growing new feathers. Its cheaper for the farmers to kill them and start with new hens than feed a moulting chicken.

A battery hen lives on a sloping wire mesh floor in a cage the size of an A4 piece of paper. They feed them very sloppy mash so it takes them ages to eat. This is deliberate - the longer they take to eat the less time they have to peck each other's eyes out. Donald has two battery hens in his flock and they are now living a happy life pottering about, resting under the shade of trees, scratching for insects and generally doing what chickens do.

Apparently keeping a couple of chickens is getting more and more prevalent as people take an interest in where their food comes from. We have a bit more research to do yet, and I hope it's feasible in our small suburban garden, but it's something that one day we will achieve.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Try and solve this beautiful old English riddle:

My dress is silent when I tread the ground
Or stay at home or stir upon the waters.
Sometimes my trappings and the lofty air
Raise me above the dwelling-place of men,
And then the power of clouds carries me far
Above the people; and my ornaments
Loudly resound, send forth a melody
And clearly sing, when I am not in touch
With earth or water, but a flying spirit.

I'll give you the answer in a day or two.

Unsuccessful trip to Argos to buy air conditioning unit

Me: Hi, I'd like to buy this air conditioning unit please.
Argos checkout girl: er...(tap tap tap on computer)... that's home delivery only.
Me: Oh right. It's just that when I phoned 10 minutes ago I was told you had one in stock.
Argos girl: (tap tap) yeah we do. (looks at me blankly)
Me: Great! Can I take it please.
Argos girl: (looks at computer) It's home delivery only I'm afraid.
Me: But you just said you had one in stock.
Girl: We do. It's in the warehouse over there.
Me: OKaaaaay, so can I take it away today then.
Girl: No, it has to be delivered.
Me: Oh. Well, when can you deliver it?
Girl: (tap tap, chews on chewing gum)...eerm, 14 days.
Me: ????
Girl: It could be quicker than that but I can't promise. We're very busy.
Me: So. You are telling me you've got the item I want behind those doors, I am willing to pay you money now for said item, remove it from the shop immediately at no inconvenience to yourselves and yet you want to wait a fortnight then pay someone to put it in a van to deliver it to an address 200m down the street. Is that the situation?
Girl: (blank look)
Me: Oh forget it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Overheard conversation

Conversation overheard at bus stop outside our office window:

bald man: It's warm today eh hen?
fat woman: Aye, better than that rain.
Bald man: Right enough. I'm no gonna complain about the sun though eh.
Fat woman: No, we dinnae see enough of it.
Bald man: Oh aye...(pause)...It's too warm for me though.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Went to see my Mum conducting the National Youth Choir for Scotland this weekend. I felt very proud. It was funny really because the audience was mainly made up of parents supporting their offspring but in my case it was the opposite way round.

We also we to see Superman returns. I'm really fed up with the current fad for making films so interminably long. It started with bloody Lord of the boring old rings, and now extends to any film deemed to be a big hit. I knew it was going to be a long one when it took 30 mins to get past the opening rescue-of-Lois-Lane sequence, another 30 mins before the actual (rather thin) plot emerged, and featured a large number of shots of Lois Lane gazing longingly into the camera.

As regards the plot, it is exactly the same plot as the first Superman film, namely:

Superman is very strong and can fly (rescues a few people just to remind you)
Lex luther hatches evil plan to get land.
Tries to kill Superman using krytonite.
Superman snogs Lois lane .
flies off into the sunset.
The end.


Oh I forgot to mention the oh-so-perplexing sub plot: Is the annoying kid Superman's son? or not? gosh I wonder????? Ooooh he just threw a piano.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Interesting phenomenon 6

What do you call a Frenchman wearing sandals?

Philip Foulop

The recent hot weather has precipitated a plethora of flip flop wearing, which caused me to ponder on today's interesting phenomenon.

When I walk in my flip flops, the noise I make is actually 'flip flop', and rightly so. If it were anything else I would have them under the trade descriptions act.

The flip is made with my right foot, and the flop with my left foot. Now here's the weird thing: Try as I might, I cannot make my shoes go flop flip. I can cheat and start walking with my left foot, but what ever silly walk I employ I can't manage to create a flop with my right foot and a flip with my left.

Try it yourself. If you find a way to flop flip then I want to know how. It would please me enormously.

These aren't my flip flops. Wish they were, they're nice. Bet these could go flop flip.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Interesting phenomenon 5

Does anyone else recognise the following phenomenon?

You move into a new house. OH MY GOD the carpets are AWFUL, and that bathroom suite... and Jesus those light fittings are hideous. We really must get round to doing something about that.

1 year later: totally oblivious to awful carpets. They are just part of the background scenery now. You'll get round to it one day.

Nick and I have been quite good with DIY but there is still the odd job to finish off and, 9 months later, we don't seem to notice anymore. For example there is a weird bulkhead thing in the bedroom that is not finished off, so you can see under the floor. It's been that like since we moved in. Finally we've got a joiner coming round to finish it off.

It's very strange how something that was so offensive at first gradually becomes tolerable, then eventually invisible.

I guess when God created 70's black and red swirly carpets he figured he better also create a way for us to live with them.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I'm not really into computer games. I generally leave that to nick, but lately I have been really engrossed in a couple of PSP games.

Firstly I love Lumines, which is a puzzle game in the same vein as Tetris but with the most amazing music that is interactive. You contribute to the music when you press different buttons. Very addictive too.

Over the last few days I have been absorbed in LocoRoco which is the cutest game ever. I like it because you control everything with 2 buttons - about the maximum I can handle with out getting stressed.

LocoRocos are like bouncy balloon creatures (a bit like space hoppers) that you roll and bounce around. Multiple LocoRocos sort of lump together, or can be split up to get through small gaps. The LocoRoco sings to you as you play, and each level has it's own song. The main locoRoco sings by it's self, but when you split them up into loads of little ones they all start singing in harmony with backing vocals, and all their mouths song to their own part - it is the cutest thing I ever seen. The more little ones you collect the more harmony parts you get to the music. It's pure genius.

Nick found this site here where you can play a level on t'internet.

Striving for the perfect mouthful

The shop round the corner sells a lovely baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn. It comes in a deep oval container that is filled to overflowing.

The problem this poses is a tricky one. Due to the confinement of the potato and tuna in it's tight container, (full site coverage, to use a construction phrase) it is not possible to poke about before starting to eat. It's crucial to be able to poke because you have to asertain the starting ratio of tuna to potato in order to judge the proportions you should be aiming for in each mouthful.

Slap dash estimating resulting in an incorrect diagnosis can seriously spoil your lunch. There can be nothing more dissapointing than reaching the bottom of your container to find a large lump of potato with no tuna left. Similarly, a large globule of tuma on it's own is a bit sick-making. The problem is compounded by the fact that the mayo can coat a lump of spud, thus camaflaging it as tuna.

Life is so complicated sometimes.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Oh I forgot to tell you...

On Friday night I fell in a ditch up to my knees in mud. It was deceptively covered in long grass. I landed, sank down with a squelch and found myself stuck there with the suction.

I pulled out my feet and my shoes remained in the mud. I had to reach in to retrieve them. Had I been with someone it would have been hilarious. As it was I was all on my own, wet, filthy dirty, ruined trousers, and a bit annoyed.

Get a good nights sleep

Here is a handy article. Insomnia is not something I suffer from but I always feel awful in the mornings.

I'd love it if my eyes would spring open and I could leap out of bed with joy. Instead I put it off until the last possible minute, then stagger to the shower in a zombie state. It takes me about 10 minutes to regain the power of speech - grunting is my only option.


For the age of 7 to 18 I sang in the Scunthorpe Co-operative Junior choir. It sounds a cliche but those times were some of the happiest of my life.

On Saturday we had a reunion, which was brilliant fun. The choir has been going for over 80 years so we had people of all ages turning up to sing. The oldest lady there sang in the choir in 1935. There was a good show from my era too, and despite not having seen some of the girls for over 10 years it was like we'd never been away. We were gafawing with laughter non-stop from the outset.

We practiced all day and did a concert with the current choir in the evening. It must be testament to our good training because the standard was extremely high. It was also amazing to see how many people have gone on to have a career in music and others like myself who have continued to sing regularly in choirs into adulthood.

It was particularly nice to see Louise, Claire, Rachel, Julie, Nathan, Sophie and Julia. We had a lovely trip down memory lane.

Aaaah the good ol' days...
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