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Friday, 30 March 2012

Getting a Bargain Out of a Disaster

Friday 30 March 2012 – One of the best things about being a writer is that you can set your own hours, (deadlines permitting); however the downside has to be looking for places/editors to pitch articles to. Okay, there’s all those magazines in newsagents with contact details inside, then there’s the good old internet; that must be helpful?

To be honest the internet isn’t the best resource for magazine/editor details, as most of the web pages are out of date, and editors are not good at responding to 31kMgxNXwZL__SL500_AA300_electronic mail enquiries. So like all other freelancers, I’m stuck with the specialist directories.

There’s two out there, Benn’s Media and Willings Press. Both are comprehensive listings of every newspaper, magazine and trade press publication out there, (UK, Europe and US). However the cost of these directories is more than many freelancers can afford or justify buying. Willings UK guide is £285, so like other writers’ I have to use the copy in the library.. 9781906035303

I have some features to pitch, so I trot off to the library and look up the magazines I need the contact details for, then I whip out my camera and photograph the pages I need; oh the joys of digi-cams – saves on photocopying. Two hours later, I’m leaving with the spoils of my visit.

Today I download the snaps to my laptop, as I have done so many times in the past, and bugger the camera was on the wrong setting. So instead of a set of clear images I get a blurred ones. See example below of what I should have but what I got. Note to self: Check camera first.


Today though I had a brainwave, and checked Amazon, and there was a UK and a US 2010 versions for the princely sum of £7.49 (inc delivery). They may be a few years out of date, but are still bargains, as before you can pitch you still have to double check the web addresses, phone numbers and editors names. Here’s hoping the initial cost is recouped quickly.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

No, No, No, No, No

Thursday 29 March 2012 – Some things are just wrong.

Whilst watching TV last night, I saw an advert with Heston Blumenthal about hot cross buns, he was advertising his twist on the well known Easter treat. Now I’m not saying his buns flavoured with mandarin and earl grey tea are wrong; although dubious. It’s the fact that show the buns toasted.

Toasted hot cross buns; NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Teacakes are toasted and HCB should be cold.

Another thing that makes me shudder is tomato ketchup on bacon NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. The English breakfast, and its many components should have good old brown sauce, especially HP, the king of condiments.

I saw this sign which is most definitely a NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.


Here the shop owner stereotypes all young men, I understand that maybe he’s had problems in the past; but who’s to say three lads entering his shop would spell trouble, what about three lassies. Also what does this message say about the area to outsiders?

Another NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. The spending of public money on pointless ventures. In 2010, the council poured money into what was to become a community space for the local people of north Shelton. For a few months a spaceIMGA0381 was cleared and young people helped to put up decking, build raised beds and create a welcoming space. I walked passed the completed project in August 2010, and it’s now March 2012, and the gates remain locked. What a complete and utter waste of money and resources.

And finally, here’s a definite NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. The following photo was forwarded to me by a friend, who tells me it was on a shelf below an assortment of gifts on sale in readiness for Mothers’ Day. Tell me would you buy this from Tesco as a gift for your mum?


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

“Being a writer, isn’t that money for old rope?”

Wednesday 28 March 2012 – Yesterday I went to open a new bank account, as I’ve not a had a personal account for about twenty years; just business ones. So I’m sat in the office at the local bank with Kelly. “Do you know what,” she says, “I’m sure I’ve seen you somewhere before.” I smile, then explain that I’m not from around here, having just moved into the area. Kelly checks her screen, asks me questions and keeps tossing me sidelong glances.

We get to the questions about employment, She asks me about previous employment, so I explain I was an actor before setting up my own arts education company. “Have you been in anything I’ve seen?” she asks me. I want to say, I don’t know Kelly, tell me everything you’ve ever seen and I’ll stop you if you name something I was in. (Damn stupid question, but a common one). I just shrug my shoulders and say, “Probably not.”

Kelly is tapping away at the keyboard, when she stops, look at me and says, “Have you been in Corrie?” I tell her yes, but nothing memorable. Kerry’s eyes roll back in her head and she says, “I know where I’ve seen you before. Where you the doctor when Ken’s daughter died?” “Well actually,” I tell her, “I was the mortician.” (2 scenes 5 lines). “But, I don’t act anymore.”

“So, what do you do now?” she asks.

“Freelance writer.”

“Being a writer, isn’t that money for old rope?”

Easy job, okay to some it may appear to be easy, sat clicking at a laptop all day, and if you take into account the feature I had published in Italy Mag this week, which was 850 words, which when the payment came through worked out as 29 pence a word, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s ‘money for old rope’ (For those interested in where this saying comes from: The hangman at public hangings was obliged to keep the rope used to hang his 'customer'. The rope, however, was popular with the macabre crowds, so the hangman used to cut the rope up and sell it.)

My Italy Mag Feature: Click to read

Okay, so it’s easy, take into consideration the days taken up with visiting the churches talked about, the costs involved and the amount of time spent writing and editing, and it soon becomes apparent that it’s not an easy job. Okay, it’s fair to say that the Italian feature was easier, as I did mix work with pleasure; as I was on holiday and visiting the churches and museum anyway.

But compare that to what I’m working on at the moment, today I have toiled, sweated and despaired over a mere 200 words; not to mention the major editing I am doing on a much larger piece, which involves cutting out , or rewriting words that were previously crafted with love.


Money for old rope, try telling that to the writers at the group I belong to, in fact if you think that it’s an easy game, pop along tonight and tell us. My betting is you’ll probably leave with a pencil inserted into somewhere painful.

Renegade Writers: Click here to view

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Recurring Dream

Tuesday 27 March 12 – I’m up quite early today; in fact I’ve always been an early riser. Coffee is brewing and iPod playing; albeit at a discreet volume so as not to upset the neighbours. Peter Murphy is singing ‘Memory Go’, and I’m grappling with the resolution of a recurring dream.

I’m not a person who analyses dreams, nor do I have any belief in the importance of dreams as prophesies; the most pressing thing on my mind this morning is how11321 should I have my egg this morning, scrambled or poached. The iPod shuffles and Parliament take over with, ‘Theme from the Black Hole’ – I love a bit of early morning funk.

So, what of this dream; well over the past few weeks I have been having the same dream. It’s not been a nightly thing maybe once or twice a week, but it’s been an odd one. It’s set in a small room, and there are three or four strange looking tables; quite ornate but sturdy looking. In the dreams I am trying to take the tables through the door, but am unable to do so, as the door is too narrow.

Last night, or rather early this morning I had the dream again, however this time I took a saw to the legs on the tables and removed them. Once I had got the tables through the door, I repaired the legs, before walking away.

I awoke feeling very refreshed, and with a really odd sense of accomplishment; now I have already said I don’t hold much with dream translations, but the closest I can come up with for this one is: To dream of a moving table is an indication that your life will soon see great change. These changes will bring much need joy and peace into your waking life. If anyone knows any different, let me know. I’m off to have a poached egg.


Monday, 26 March 2012

Titanic Let Down

Monday 26 March 2012 – I watched the new ITV1 drama Titanic last night; I was interested to see if they writers would be able to add a new angle to this already well known story. Sadly thus far they are failing; the ITV drama was, in my opinion a poor cousin to the James Cameron movie. The storyline at times focussed upon members of the upper classes becoming embroiled in petty situations; add to this the rebellious well heeled daughter, who flouts propriety by kissing a boy she’s known a mere twelve hours. (Didn’t Kate Winslett do this?)


Despite its lacking originality, I shall persevere with it and hopefully the next three weeks will give us more than just musicians playing as the ship sinks, and lovers on makeshift rafts, that manage to find each other in the pitch black of a north Atlantic night.

I believe next week will focus upon the woeful lack of lifeboats on the ship; at the planning stage it was calculated the ship needed 64; more than adequate for the passenger capacity of 3547. During the build it was planned to reduce the number of lifeboats to 48, but as it was completed, it was thought the boats would make the upper class decks look cluttered, so only 20 were installed.


Being Stoke on Trent born, I shall be interested to see how they drama portrays Captain Smith. Captain Edward John Smith, was born in the city in 1850: (Well St, Hanley).

Captain Smith had 43 years of experience at sea, 32 of those were with the White Star Line, and 26 years experience of sailing the north Atlantic. His experience makes the sinking of the Titanic more tragic, and I certainly hope this new drama doesn’t portray him as an inadequate leader of men, or a bumbling fool.

To celebrate the centenary of the fated voyage a special plaque has been commissioned to be sited upon the house where Captain Smith was born. (The owners of the house have already hinted that this will increase their property’s value.)

One final thing is a lesser known fact, that from first sight of the iceberg to collision took just 30 seconds, making the impact unavoidable, as with the poor lighting ships had in 1912, would have made a much earlier sighting impossible.

(apologies for any typos or grammatical errors, I haven’t had time to revise this post)

Friday, 23 March 2012

On the Horns of a Dilemma

Friday 23 March 2012 – Yesterday I took a stroll into town to sort out setting up a new UK bank account. My iPod was in pocket and with the midday sun warming me, Slave sang ‘Stella Fungk’.


My first port of call was the post office, to investigate what accounts they had to offer. After standing for twenty minutes in a queue I gave up. I dropped into the Nat West, spoke to Abby behind the counter and five minutes later, I was leaving with an appointment made for Tuesday at 11.00, to set up the new account.

On the way back home, for no reason I can give, I walked into a scruffy looking charity shop. I was drawn to the large collection of books on its shelves. Tucked in the corner was a small collection of Italian books. I like old books about Italian cooking or the language, and here there was three old teach yourself Italian books. I asked how much the books were, and after looking at them the assistant Song for Polar Bearssaid, “They’ve been there for so long, you can have all three for fifty pence.” I gave her a pound coin, and told her to keep the change.

I walked home with Snow Patrol playing the imaginatively named ‘Days Without Paracetamol’ from the equally imaginatively named album, Songs for Polar Bears.

Later in the afternoon I pick up the books and skim through the pages, and inside one of them is a crisp twenty pound note. After a trip to the bank to change it for the new ones that are legal tender, I now have a problem: Do I keep it or do I take it back to the shop?


If I do take it back, will they give me my fifty pence donation back?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Feng Shui

Thursday 22 March 2012 – I’m not a particularly religious person, I have no firm belief in any of the recognised faiths; or any of the unrecognised ones to be honest. This said I am intrigued by iconic symbols, and have, or rather had until someone stole them, a large collection of religious/spiritual things, that range from crosses to Buddha, from the Green Man to a Balinese Garuda, and an assortment of Indian deities..

Yesterday as I waited for the postman to deliver a letter I was expecting, and Silversun Pickups played, ‘Lazy Eye’ I decided to root out the two items I purchased in a Feng Shui store in Kuala Lumpur in 2007. Now I don’t really hold with all this Feng Shui malarkey, but as both of the items I have are wealth related it can’t do any harm to edge my bets.

I do a little research, and it says to bring wealth into the home the coin must hang 100_5003over the main door, so with hammer in hand and a hook up it goes over the front door. (Now anyone passing will think we’re a Chinese takeaway).

The next thing is the three legged toad, he must reside to the farthest point in the house to the left of the front door, which would be on the floor under the cooker, so that is ruled out and he gets placed beside the TV, and this weeks lottery tickets are placed beneath him.


If there are no blog updates next week, you can assume I’ve won the jackpot and I’m lying on a beach somewhere watching hunks in budgie smugglers stroll past.

Apologies for any typos or grammar errors, just bashed this one off (to coin an unfortunate turn of phrase) and didn’t check it.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Excessive Expletives

Wednesday 21 March 2012 – Now I’m not a fan of censorship; believing that people must be allowed to make their own choices. Obviously there are some things that we must outlaw; although here is not the place to talk about the likes of child pornography, snuff movies and videoed rape: these types of entertainment, I expect all civilised people agree are repugnant.

What I am talking about today is, swearing. Now the odd F word has been known to fall from my lips, occasionally the C word and more times than should ‘bollocks’. I believe there’s a place for expletives: an intelligent person with a wide ranging vocabulary can use them for emphasis, humour even in conflict. It’s their intelligence and ability to string a coherent sentence together that makes the expletive, an important part of the statement, which does not denigrate what is being said.


Today I’m walking around one of our top four supermarkets, iPod is playing as usual: Alison Moyet is singing the classic, ‘Cry Me a River’. I turn a corner and the aisle is blocked by a woman chatting on her (pink) mobile phone. I do the British thing and wait for her to see me and move the trolley that’s impeding my access. She looks up briefly, then goes back to her conversation. I take the ear-bud out of my right ear and am about to say “Excuse me, can I pass.” when I catch her conversation; a dialogue peppered liberally with the F word. It sort of goes like this: “Do you f***** think she’ll go?” Pause.  “No, she never f**** does, does she. Pause F**** waste of f***** space.” Pause. “Yeah, I’m gonna get f***** wasted, f**** yeah.” Pause. “I saw her f***** brother yesterday, f****** tosser he is.” Pause. “I know, he can’t f***** get a f**** job.” Pause “Did you see f***** corrie the other f**** night?” Pause. “Yeah, I f***** reckon it was f**** Kevin that killed him.” Pause. “F**** yeah.”

By this point I’m fed up of waiting for her to move, so I say loudly, “Can you move your f***** trolley.” I am not surprised to hear her call me a f***** tosser as I walk past.

v sign

In my opinion, if someone can only form a sentence and use the F word constantly, it not only loses its impact, it also indicates that the speaker is of a low intelligence, and unable to use a vast range of words to express themselves.

I plug in my right ear-bud and walk away as,Grandmaster Flash play ‘Electric Slide’, now, where have they moved the capers too?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Unlucky, Lucky Dip

Tuesday 20 March 2012 – I usually buy a lucky dip for the lottery; when I remember to do so, that is. Last week I nipped into the local newsagent and handed over my pound coin, tucked the ticket, unread into my wallet and walked away, iPod playing as usual; on this occasion ‘Tutto é Niente’ by Dolcenera was playing.

Tutto é niente; Italian for ‘all or nothing’, sums up my luck to be honest. Well not so much the ‘all’ more likely the ‘nothing’.

Last week however I think I must have been sold the unluckiest ticket ever when you weigh up the laws of averages, lady luck and chance. my ticket was:


Thinking this may be a sign, an omen, this run of consecutive numbers must be a sure fire winner. So I sit watching Dale Winton, as he patronised the quiz show contestants and simpered on prime time TV, (thank goodness for alcohol). Jenni Falconer announces the draw, and the coloured balls start to spin in the machine. Needless to say not a single sodding number on my ticket came out.

Perhaps on the day  my iPod should have played Alessandra Amorosso with her song, ‘Niente’ as a warning before I purchased the ticket.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Judging a Book by its Cover

Monday 19 March 2012 - Judging a book by its cover is something I’ve been guilty of lately, the first instance was when without hearing X-factor runner up Marcus Collins’ debut album I assumed it would be a generic over-produced piece of pop fodder. How wrong I was; yes it’s mostly covers and sounds a tad rushed, but proves he can sing very well. (This said it will not be finding its way onto my iPod).

Another instance occurred when shopping I spotted 100_5046chocolate covered marshmallows with instead of jam, Turkish delight. Now I’m not a lover of all things sweet, and I don’t have a particular liking to chocolate; but something about them made me want them. I purchased the Mallows, took them home and popped them into the kitchen cupboard, and forgot about them.

Ms Grace by The Tymes shuffled on the iPod and my mind shuffled, making me remember the Mallows in the cupboard. I’ve always liked Turkish Delight, so open them in anticipation of a taste sensation, however I am profoundly disappointed. There’s hardly enough Turkish beneath the mallow to delight. No doubt the remaining eight will sit inside the cupboard until they’ve expired their best by date.

100_5008A few weeks ago I was in a store in town when I spotted on a shelf, tinned Brussels sprouts. Now, I have always been a lover of the sprout, whether frozen or fresh, but tinned ones just seems wrong. The can comes complete with the boast, France’s favourite vegetables, printed on the bottom of the label; so buying into the marketing, I purchase a can and take it home.

Upon opening the can the smell that escapes is dreadful, and the green, almost brown looking mush inside looks positively unappetising. Needless to say, they may be France’s favourite, but they are now languishing in the bottom of my dustbin. I’ll be sticking to frozen and fresh in the future.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Who is Getting the Better Deal?

Friday 16 March 2012 -  As I walk through town, with Sophie Ellis-Bextor  singing ‘Party in My Head’ I spot the content for todays blog entry. My final entry for this weeks A Life On Shuffle is a little irreverent, but as it’s funny I make no apology. (I hope it makes you smile).

Like it or loathe it graffiti is everywhere; here in the UK we have a very different attitude towards it, than the Italian’s do. Here, when it appears, arms are thrown up in the air and teeth gnash with disgust; in Italy arms are also thrown up, but shoulders rise in complacency.

I did see in town two scribbled pieces of graffiti that made me laugh out loud. The first one tells the passer by who stops to read it, that: Katie sucks dick for pizza. The statement makes me think Katie must really like pizza, if she’s prepared to fellate for it.100_5023

Just below this is another piece of scribbled text, this one tells me: Shane sucks dick for a fiver. Now I’m left to ponder who has the better deal, is it Katie or Shane; which one gains most in the fellatio stakes?100_5022

Personally, I’d want both, the pizza and the fiver and a couple of glasses of a 1979 Barolo too – why sell yourself short, eh?

Thursday, 15 March 2012


Thursday 15 March 2012 – Signs are everywhere, some are useful; the ones that direct us to where we want to go. Some signs can be confusing; try navigating your way through Milan and you’ll know what I mean. Today I took a few random photographs of signs that caught my eye.


The first is for a sandwich shop on the high street, it’s called ‘Used to be Bob’s Sandwich Shop’. This led me to wonder; first, who is Bob? and  second, Who’s shop is it now then?

Walking around a second hand/antique shop I came across another sign, this one made me smile purely because of the dreadful spelling.


As I’m walking a sign related coincidence occurs,  my iPod shuffles and Siouxsie and the Banshee’s begin to play ‘Happy House’, the song is about ten bars in when I turn a corner and am greeted by the following sign.


It makes me chuckle, and the woman walking towards me give me one of those looks that says, beware nut job on the high street. I then spot another sign that intrigues me, again it’s on the high street and it’s for a tattoo parlour, which goes under the name Propertattooz. Proper tattoos – as opposed to what, fake ones? I certainly hope so, I wouldn’t want to come in pay for one that washed away in the shower, or come to think of it, an improper one.


The last sign that caught my attention is a house name that is a play on words.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sarah Millican and the Bin Man’s Bum Crack

As I lost internet access for a few days this week I’m afraid my daily blog updates have all had to be put into this one posting:

Monday 5 March 2012 – Although I rarely check out my Twitter account, I did last evening and saw that the fantastically funny Sarah ‘The Cake Pigeon’ Millican is on BBC news this morning. So I’m sat in front of the fire, trying for the first time: and comic_sarah_millic_1854356bpositively the last, Heinz Toast Toppers, waiting in anticipation, for Ms Millican to grace the TV screen.

From outside I hear a rumbling, the sound of plastic wheels on cobbles. I look out and see neighbours dragging out their wheelie bins. (Now as I’m new to the area,this is my first indication of ‘Bin Day’; and as the builders have kindly left ours full of rubbish it needs emptying.

Not wanting to miss Sarah’s interview, I decide to SARAH_MILLICAN_2689_previewtake our bin after it has been aired; however I hear the bin lorry trundling up the street, so have no option but to drag it noisily up the alley and out onto the street. Just as I exit the alley onto the pavement I see the bin lorry is already here. I present my bin to one of the bin men, just as his colleague bends down to pick up some rubbish he’s dropped, giving me a flash of the hairiest bum crack I’ve ever seen; honestly it was so hirsute he could have plaited it.

I retrieve my bin and clatter back down the alley with it, locking the back door and entering the living room, just as Ms Millican’s infectious laugh resonates from the TV screen. (The BBC should provide viewers with giggle penicillin).

That’s me set up for the day, interview over and the first song of the day to play is my favourite Italian stud-muffin Tiziano Ferro with Il Regalo Piú Grande, (DJ Daddy mix), which translates as The Greatest Gift; which I believe great comedy is. So thank you Sarah for bringing sunshine into a middle England living room.sarah_millican_dvd_2011

The Sarah Millican Show starts on Thursday 8 March at 10 pm on BBC2. You can guess where I’ll be at that time – Yes, chuckling like a loon on my sofa.

The Day the Ad-Men Left their Brains on the Bus

Tuesday 6 March 2012 – I was listening to Sarah Brightman sing ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ (Con te Partiro), when something on the television caught my eye, making me pause the iPod.

What had made me stop the diva mid- F#?

An urgent appeal on behalf of Mongolian horse breeders? A news report about the discovery of intelligent life in Wilmslow? The debt crisis in Budapest?

No. It was an TV advertisement for the popular dog show, Crufts, at the NEC in Birmingham.

Nothing unusual in that I hear you say; well not in the adverts content, however the statement at the end is ridiculous. It says, “Children aged eight and under get in free, if accompanied by an adult.” I just have one thing to say, – how many kids eight and under wake up and navigate the M42 on their scooter to attend the show?

Of course kids eight and under would be with an adult, which advertising moron couldn’t see the stupidity of this statement.

And finally, - should six year old Sam from Smethwick turn up unaccompanied by an adult, how much entry fee would he be charged?

An Epidemic of ‘A’ Boards

Wednesday 7 March 2012 – Today is particularly windy, and as I walk through town listening to ‘Leather and Lace’ by Stevie Nicks, the wind is detectable as it blows across the plastic ear-buds.


I’m almost hit as three ‘A’ boards are blown down the street, heading straight for me. Several pedestrians stop to watch; eager I guess to see if I’ll be struck by them. Luckily for me the wind drops and the boards fall flat just inches from me.

100_5030I look up this one street and count 19 of these boards outside shops and fast food businesses, and it makes me think about what would have happened if they had hit me; do these businesses have insurance to cover any accidents occurring?

I understand that in a fragile economic climate, retail businesses need to maximise footfall into their premises; but over the past months these boards have been popping up at a rapid rate. (The 100_5035chip shop on Cheapside has three of these in an area 50 m sq).

With pedestrian areas becoming crowded with these advertising boards, the pavements space is shrinking, and this in turn means the potential for a member of the public to have an accident is increased. So who will be 100_5038responsible if this happens, the shop owner whose board it is, or the local council for not putting a stop to this practice.

On a final note, outside a pub on a busy road is a huge ‘A’ board, that is so large that cars turning out of the side street have a restricted view to their right, and people walking along the pavement sometimes have to step off the kerb as they navigate around it.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Prokofiev and the 08457 Numbers

Friday 2 March 2012 – Christina Perri sings ‘Mine’ from her 2011 debut album, Lovestrong; it’s taken a few listens to get into; at times it gets a bit moany droney, however she can moan on all she likes, as this morning I have two excellent poached eggs on toast to eat.

The one thing that is boring about moving house is notifying everyone of your new address; a task I have to do today. First call of the day is to British Gas; no surprise it’s an 08457 number and multiple option menu, and I’m in a queue; the overture to ‘Peter and the Wolf’ entertains me. The second call is to the water supplier, another queue and more ‘Peter and the Wolf’. Third to my bank, another automated service followed by a queue. Fourth to the electricity supplier and once more I get the overture from; yes you guessed it, Peter and that damned wolf. My fifth call goes to……….

There’s actually no fifth, as the cost of the previous four calls have amounted to £15, and have wiped out the credit on my phone.

Peter And The Wolf

Why is it that every call centre  I’ve called seems unable to handle the volume of calls they receive?

Instead of putting people in queues and forcing them to listen to Prokofiev, hire more staff.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Migrant Litter Louts

Thursday 1 March 2012 – As I get older, I find I’m becoming more annoyed by things that previously registered no emotion within me. (Perhaps, I’m destined to become a grumpy old git). Anyway, today I’m walking along the street minding my own, when in a shop doorway, stand three young Polish ladies; I assume they’re Polish as the shop says Polski Sklep, and the language they are speaking sounds, how I imagine Polish sounds.

The reason these ladies attract my attention is because they are smoking, or rather two are. As I approach the third one takes a cigarette out of its packet and casually tosses the empty packet onto the pavement; as she lights her cigarette, the two who are smoking finish theirs and drop the butts onto the ground, before grinding them into the pavement with their heels.

The ironic thing is, on the lamp post next to the shop is a sign warning of an £80 fine for people who drop cigarette butts.


Later today, I’m walking through the park and see two men who both look eastern European walking towards me. ‘Running Away’ by Maverick Sabre is playing, his faux Jamaican tones bouncing around inside head. One of the men is reading a loose leaf file, and as he walks he’s tearing out pages that he obviously has no interest in, and is letting them flutter to the ground behind him. I count seven pages of A4 paper, blowing along the path before he passes me, and as he does; another page is torn out and dropped at my feet.

Now I’m not adverse to migration, I’d be a hypocrite if I said I was, but I am incensed when people feel they can enter another country and act in such an appalling way.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Moving House and the Inattentive Mother

Wednesday 29 February 2012 – Today, I move house, hopefully this will be a short term domicile, until everything is sorted and we can head back to Italy. ‘Talk To Me’ by Sylvester, from his last and not commercially successful album, ‘Mutual Attraction’ plays as  we carry the first boxes through the front door.

The day is spent humping furniture, unloading vans, and generally getting frustrated with the whole experience of moving your life from one box to another.

Villa-Jolanda-Prosecco-JeraboamI take a break and drive to the shop; prosecco will no doubt be required at some stage. I drive past the local primary school; it’s the end of the day and parents are collecting their offspring. I watch as a small boy breaks away from his mother; she’s too busy texting to notice. The boy runs straight out of the school gates towards the zebra crossing, and is only prevented from running out into the road by another mother waiting for the green man to flash. The inattentive mother looks up from her phone, scolds her son, and leaving him stood beside the road, she goes back to her texting.

In the evening as it’s Wednesday I join my friends at the Renegade Writer’s group, we discuss each other’s work, before I leave with a dozen fresh, free range eggs laid by Jan’s chickens. I drive home in anticipation of a chilled glass of prosecco, as Tanita Tikaram sings ‘Sighing Innocents’.


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Toyah and the Invisible Car

Tuesday 28 February 2012 – First song of the day is, ‘Thunder in the Mountains’413yoM8scwL__SL500_AA280_ (Take the Leap! version) by Toyah. I’ve been a fan ever since I first heard the Sheep Farming EP.

People who’ve read my diary ‘Kia Ora Mr Shakespeare’ about my time touring two Shakespeare plays in New Zealand know how important songs from Toyah were while I was there. (Kia Ora is due out on Kindle soon).

I walk down to the sandwich shop and purchase a bacon and egg sandwich, and as I walk back another Toyah track shuffles to the fore; this time, ‘Wife’ from the excellent imaginative, ‘Prostitute’ album.

Breakfast over, I drive into town. I’m just approaching a junction and so slow down, when out of nowhere five women cross in front of my car without even looking. I sound the horn as I stop, causing five pairs of eyes to peer from beneath their hijab, after tossing me a cursory glance, the five women continue to drift across the road.


I continue on my journey, and am turning a corner when a woman with a pushchair steps off the pavement and crosses in front of me again causing me to stop. I park in town and switch on the iPod, I’m going about my day when the screeching saxophone indicates another Toyah song is starting, this time it’s my all time favourite, ‘Neon Womb’.

515BtSuTwVL__SL500_AA280_Later as I’m reversing out of my parking bay, despite my being almost completely out another car drives straight past me, swerving to avoid me, and to boot he beeps his horn at me. I plug in my iPod and it obviously favours Toyah today, as I drive home ‘Insects’ from the live album Toyah, Toyah, Toyah plays.

Just as I pull into the road where I'm staying at the moment, a dog shoots out in front of me; the dog is closely followed by a teenager, resplendent in trackie bottoms and hoody. Neither man nor beast give me a glance as I apply the brakes, confirming my suspicions; that today I am driving an invisible car.

toyah_willcox_popsaengerin_By the way I also had Toyah's song 'Angel and Me' playing when I got married.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Doctor’s Digit

Monday 27 February 2012 – I had to take OH to the doctors today, as his cough is still getting on my nerves. So as he visits the doc in his new and shiny health centre, I pop the ear buds in, switch on the iPod and take a stroll. The first song to shuffle forward is a classic piece of Northern Soul, "’Gonna Fix You GoodIMGA0344 (Everytime You’re Bad)’ by the Alan Brown Set. I notice that the traffic is slowing down on the A50, so with a dancehall bounce in my step I investigate.

I discover the road is blocked by a broken down lorry, and six policemen are struggling to bring some order to the scene. Tina Turner now fills my head with her version of the Al Green classic, ‘Let’s Stay Together’, and I turn around and head back to the health centre.

When I get back, OH is waiting at the car, turns out he got a shock when he met the new doctor. He went in with a cough, but ended up over the couch with one the doctors digits inserted into his back passage. I ask, “Why? and he replies “I don’t know why.”

Now I’m no medical expert, but even I know that a cough is in the throat, maybe on the chest, so why does the doctor need to stick his finger in your ass, just to send you away with some antibiotics?

Friday, 2 March 2012

Overheard Gem

Friday 24 February 2012 – Today I overheard a cracking piece of conversation, it went like this:

Official: “Hello Joe, what are you doing here?”

Joe: “I’m making a new claim for Jobseekers.”

Official: “I thought you’d signed off.”

Joe: “I did.”

Official: “How long were you working for?”

Joe: “Just under two months.”

Official: “What happened?”

Joe: “I got the sack”

Official: “Why?”

Joe: “Boss found out I shagged his daughter.”

What a gem.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Love, Hate and the Tattooed Lady

Thursday 23 February 2012 – When you’re living in someone else's space, it’s difficult to function normally, I miss having my music playing, and also being able to do the things I normally do; mostly due to my life and possessions being split between Italy, Jumbo storage and the back of my van. So, just to get away from it all we go into town, there’s nothing we need there, but the need to escape is strong.

ImageProviderMy OH keeps coughing; it’s been driving me mad for days, so I suggest we go to the local ‘walk-in’ clinic. We are sitting in the reception, waiting for OH to be called through, when the light is blocked by a huge man who has hobbled in; his bulk supported by a walking stick that looks unable to bear his weight. He’s wearing half mast shorts and red slippers, and his legs are covered in tribal tattoos, as are his arms and his face. I look across at him and spot his hands; on the fingers of his left hand is inked in capitals ‘LOVE’ and across his right is ‘HATE’.( I thought the popularity of these tattoos had died out in the seventies). His wife appears; a diminutive woman who’s also covered with tattoos, vines creep along her forearms, flowers bloom at her wrists and butterflies flit across her shoulders.

They are an odd looking couple, her inking is serene and tranquil and his is confrontational and malevolent.She looks like she’d not be out of place in a circus back in Victorian times, and he looks like he’d fit right in on a anti-political demonstration.