Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Something will kill you in the end

I heard on the radio this morning that a study has found that in older women even one glass of wine a night may lead to an increased chance of getting breast cancer. Colleagues were worrying about this over coffee (which is probably likely to do even more damage than wine). I take little notice of these things! I figure that when you get older something has to kill you eventually. Maybe by drinking alcohol it is more likely to be cancer but then drinking a glass of red wine may mean I'm less likely to die of a heart attack. I'll take my chance with the wine!

Reminds me of the time when BSE was discovered in cows and sales of British beef fell. It was selling for next to nothing at the time and I remember an interview with a pensioner who was happily buying a large piece of best steak. "What do I care about getting BSE in 15 years" he said. "I won't be here then and I haven't been able to afford decent steak for years!

Monday, 23 February 2009

First signs of spring

I have been reading about the signs of spring on others' blogs and there are signs here as well. The daffodils are pushing through the soil and the snowdrops are out at Ian's place. It gets light before I need to get up and it if I leave work on time it is still light. And finally.. the children are playing on the street after school.

Ups and downs of life

My brain has been very busy lately which has made it very difficult for me to find the energy to write. (Or maybe I am just getting too old to cope with more than one thing at a time!) The weekend was spent talking toilets (again) and plasterboard. We are going over to France for three days in March to plan the next stage of the building project. Eurotunnel have just scuppered our plans of taking a van full of stuff over by imposing a limit of 3 cubic metres load in all vans for 'safety reasons'. We have been trying to work out how much 3 cubic metres is when it is not packed in a box with much hilarity and some frustration at the lack of clarity from Eurotunnel! Anyway, the plan is taking shape (it is funny how in the end it always does!).

I am enjoying my new car more than I should really. However, the tyres were worn unevenly and I didn't like the way it handled bumps. Ian is a bit of a health and safety man when it comes to tyres and recommended that I purchased two new decent ones. I like to talk about places where I got good service as opposed to constantly moaning about bad service and so we headed over to a place called Dartford Tyres. There are two places of that name but the one we went to has no website and is just a shop front in a small parade opposite a trading estate. The front of the shop was busy, the service was quick and efficient, the staff were funny and hard working and the prices were considerably cheaper than anyone else. You can find them at this address.

99, Burnham Rd,Dartford,KentDA1 5AZ

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Costa geriatrica no more

According to The News of the World, living here is grim

with appalling parallels to Channel 4 comedy drama show Shameless.The only difference is the total absence of anything remotely funny

Although I have had my experiences over the last few years this is not my perception of the vast majority of people who live around here. It is interesting to see how first one family and then a whole community can become demonised, egged on by the press and a desire to make some fast money at whatever cost. The media and Internet attention on what is essentially a fairly unremarkable story is far more than it deserves. For what it is worth, this is my opinion.

There is no way that I think it is okay for two people that young to become parents but these things have been happening since time immemorial and life has continued.

I doubt there would have been so much fuss if the lad concerned did not look so young.

When it comes to anti-social behaviour having a baby is better than stabbing other young people or setting fire to buildings! (At least it is about life and creation and not death and destruction).

There will always be people that will try to exploit others (including their own children) for their own personal gain.

My experiences of the local social services and police services is that they are quite good and try and work with the local community.

The local community is quite proactive. When the council tried to close the local library people rallied together and established their own community library which is still going strong.

That said there really isn't a great deal for young teenagers to do. In the USA teenagers go to the mall and here they have sex. (Not all, I hasten to add).

Will people still think of this town as Costa Geriatrica? I doubt it!

Now, if , on hearing of this story, the tabloids had looked at the community library, the community centre (opposite the house where they have been camped out) and after interviewing people thought, well, this is quite a nice community but it seems they do have a few problems with bored and lost teenagers...and then maybe, rather than paying out thousands for another exaggerated story, decided to invest the money in a community project, or into something that might prevent these things happening in future..now that would have been a story!

Monday, 16 February 2009

We are (in)famous

I guess it was only a matter of time before we became national news here on the South Coast. The reason for our infamy concerns the case of a 13 year old boy who has become a father. This story was plastered all over a national tabloid paper and provoked the predictable outcries from all around, who jump on the bandwagon to get their voices heard. Well, as it happens the said happy family live only a stones throw from here. As I was leaving work on Friday I noticed an outside broadcast vehicle heading off and I wondered what had been going on. Meantime Ian was watching the news before leaving home and phoned.

"Lovely, put the tele on. I'm sure I'm looking at the street round the corner from you"

Sure enough I switched on see some local faces that I definitely recognised talking about how sad it was and what they would do if their children did something like that.

The following day a few people were gathered near the house concerned but other than that all carried on as normal. I talked with the neighbours.

I asked if it was really true that this 13 year old was the father. True he seemed more than happy to own up but monogamy is not something that is rife among sexually active teenagers. Well, it turns out that there are several other in the mix and a paternity test is following to determine the true state of affairs (so to speak). (The most worrying thing about this story is the bit that says that the family spokesman is Max Clifford.)

Did the family get paid by the tabloid paper for the story? The general opinion seemed to be yes and various amounts were suggested. (Given the involvement of the above publicist I would have thought it unlikely it was done for free).

It was also rumoured that for one of those involved it was not the first time that they had sought publicity, appearing on a well known TV show to discuss their sexual appetite. I hasten to add that I don't know exactly who this is or whether it is true!

Finally there was some indignation that many of the people interviewed who were concerned actually did not lead blameless lives themselves!

In the end, as I often do round here, I felt for all three children at the centre of this.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Valentine's cake

This weekend valentines day fell on a Saturday. Ian cooked dinner and I made a valentines day cake. The base was chocolate (soaked in cherries and cassis-next time I would use a stronger alcohol). The top was a white chocolate ganache. It was my first attempt and worked reasonably well except that next time I would use a slightly better chocolate. I had originally planned to decorate the top with white malteser chocolates but unfortunately they all got eaten before I made the cake!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

So you'll think of me all day

Yesterday was spent on public transport. Bus to station-train to Brighton-train back -bus to other part of town- walk back- train to East Croydon- (got on wrong train)- got off at Selhurst-train to London Bridge-train to Sidcup. All this was because I was picking up my new car from Ian's house and driving it back! I finally got in at 10.45 in the evening!

During the morning I kept smelling a rather nasty urine smell. First I thought it was from the Station (drunken men peeing on the platform), then the toilets on the train but when I could still smell it sitting in the classroom I realised that it might be something on me! Had I stepped in something nasty? I started smelling all my items of clothing, shoes, bag etc; and then I found it. My hat had a distinct smell of cats pee! The mystery was solved..when left to his own devices Mandi the cat usually feels the need to assert his authority by making everything smell of him. Although neutered he still manages to smell pretty bad! He must have got my hat the day before and decided to make sure I remembered him all day!

What do you do at this point? I had already worn the hat all morning so any nasty smells were already all over my hair. Do I take the smelly hat off and have a cold head or do I continue to wear it and keep a warm head but accept that people will just think I am the mad woman who smells of cat?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Social networking sites for the elderly

I am on Facebook but its a strange place when you are older. Most people my age are on it to keep in touch with their kids while they go off around the world! My 'friends' are mostly parents. When I do have a 'friend' under 30 I can't understand them anyway as they seem to speak a different language. Take a look at this from my nephew. Consider that he spent most of his formative years in private education and is not a member of any ethnic minority group.

easy bro hows shit in england.... im havin the best time of my life bruv...... call me got some heavy shit to tell you, your not going to believe it mate.... i cant belive it honestly!!!!! hope your good.... i have one heavy tan as well.... x

The perils of work

I have said before that my brother works for the Royal Bank of Scotland and recent days have not been easy for him. For the last few days his office has been picketed by protesters. Last week they pelted staff with snowballs as they turned up to work and today he was booed. He has been quite lighthearted about it but as his older sister I can't help but feel cross that he has to put up with this during what is a stressful time for him as well. He was after all just doing his job in the way he was paid to do it. If he still has a job in the future and people want him to do it in a different way then he will but I don't think he deserves that sort of abuse every day.

In the meantime amidst fears of redundancy he is making sure that all his health problems are being treated through his private health insurance before he looses it. He has an appointment to have is varicose veins removed very soon!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Silver loveliness

I am really exited as I bought a new car today! Well, not totally new but a two year old Ford Fiasco, Silver edition with loads of little extras..the most important one being that the first three letters of the number plate are LOV! I knew as soon as I saw it sitting there in it's Silver loveliness that I would end up buying it and some good luck with regard to the price (the dealers had marked it up incorrectly and agreed to honour the marked up price), I decided to buy it on the spot. Looking at other similar cars I think I got a good deal. Will post a picture when it is actually in my possession.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Tai Chi and me

I have just started to learn Tai Chi. One thing that I realised is that I have developed much more patience with myself than I used to have. I first tried to learn Tai Chi when I lived in Canada and then again when I lived in London. However I never managed to stick it out to learn the form properly as I got too frustrated with the slow pace. Learning Tai Chi is like learning to rub your head and pat your belly at the same time. After 4 weeks I know 4 moves in a total of 24 so maybe after 6 months I will get to the end!

And then it was gone

The snow has gone from here although Ian tells me that the side roads in London are still quite bad. I remember the snow 19 years ago as I was living in London then (was it really that long ago)! Everything shut down for a day and then we finally got back to work. I spent a day sledding over Alexandra Palace. The side roads remained covered in ice for about 10 days but I don't remember it causing quite such a commotion as now. (Perhaps I just didn't listen to it).

Monday, 2 February 2009

Making a drama out of a crisis

Reading about record heatwaves in Tales from Down Under is a little surreal as we sit here in what the News tells us is the worst weather since 1991. I can't help but think that this is a mis-perception on the part of the media as looking out of my window it doesn't look that bad. I got up and turned up to work today to teach on my module only to find out that the University was closed due to bad weather, although the roads were actually better than they have been on many other occasions.

Ian left at the same time to take the perilous drive up to London, amidst tales of jack-knifed lorries, serious traffic jams, road closures etc, only to find that, with the exception of a few roads around his home, all was clear and he had a pleasant journey.

The trend of reporting incidents, weather, the economy and day to day events in the most over-exaggerated tone, thus making an everyday event seem like a crisis is probably in part responsible for the feeling of doom and gloom pervading everywhere.

On the way out of work I saw the cafeteria manager; a Scot. "If we stayed at home everyday it snowed in Scotland then I would never have had any schooling". We laughed. I worked in Canada for a couple of years and you wouldn't dare to be late for work due to the snow, let alone not turn up!