I'm suppose to look puzzled, not angry!

About Me

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I have a book to publish. Editors love it, marketing departments say 'up the media profile'. So here I am 'upping it' and writing about the book, food, and life in general.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Know your fats, Social Services may be asking you . .

Good fat/bad fat - spot the difference
"A lady came into school to talk to us about healthy living today" said Zoe (11).

I was feeling smug.  Up until she was four years old whenever Zoe saw a McDonalds sign she would point and say, "Look, there's a 'M' for 'Mummy'!"

Now they have a Maccy D every Thursday but that's only because we have to fit superfast food into a night of French lesson/samba lesson/violin lesson/piano lesson/orchestra.

I like to think that my children eat a healthy and  varied diet.  They've eaten jellyfish and chicken feet at Glamorous, our favourite Manchester Chinese restaurant.  They've plucked and eaten all manner of game - goose, duck, partridge, woodcock - which we regularly  find hanging on our gate, courtesy of the local man-with-a-gun.  Zoe even managed to try a stir-fry made with the hare-that-looked-like-a-dog (it was so bloody big we thought it was an Alsatian when we found it hanging.  Even I had been freaked out).

Anyhow, I knew that if the 'Healthy Living' lady had questioned Zoe and Joe about their diet, she may have guessed that their mother had been a chef.

"She held up a jar of fat like the one you have, mum, and asked if anyone could tell her what it was" said Zoe.  I knew what was coming.  I have a fat jar which lives on the kitchen windowsill.  It gets a daily top-up with the fat I drain from roast meats, sausages etc.  I look at my fat jar and proudly think, "That's the fat I have saved my family from eating this month."

"I told her, 'My mum has a fat jar like that.  It's goose fat for roasting the potatoes'."

Noooooo!!  "Zoe, it's the fat I drain from the meat which I then throw away!  The goose fat is kept in a jug in the fridge."

Zoe, confused asked, "So what's the difference?"

"About thirty quid for a start."

I am awaiting the call from Social Services and trying to think up a good explanation of the difference between the fat in the jar and the fat in the jug.  I don't think that telling them, "We are connoisseurs, we know the difference." will somehow cut the mustard.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Truffles are not to be trifled with

Truffle salt with knobs on
The  Hairy Bikers were at it with truffles this week - burying slices inside a whole Brie, making truffle butter.  Yum, yum, yum.

Our house is actually one gigantic truffle.  We live it and breathe it, our clothes smell of it.  We are The Truffle Family.

This is thanks to my sister, Maggie, who gave me a very fine Christmas present of O&CO. white truffle salt and black truffle oil.  I haven't even opened the truffle oil yet as the aroma escaping from the tightly closed truffle salt is about as much truffliness as we can take.

Ged, who always loved a bit of truffle oil on his steak or shitake mushrooms, has finally admitted that the pervading aroma of the truffle salt is beginning to make him feel queasy whenever he steps inside the house.  He has suggested we buy a little safe for it - not to stop anyone stealing it - but to keep its smelliness locked away.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Night-T9 - Goodbye to Predictive Text

Farewell, my lovely
Today I will reluctantly embrace the world of the i-phone.  Yes, Ged is upgrading to the #4 so I get his cast-off, the i phone 3g.

But I will so miss the strange and entertaining world of predictive text!  I'm told that the text my old 'phone predicts is not related to the area I live in or its demographics.  So why is it that whenever I try to write 'did'  my 'phone always prefers to choose the word 'eid'?  Does this happen to people who don't live in a predominantly Muslim area? And anyway, the Muslims only celebrate the feast of Eid twice a year. Surely the word 'did' has to be used by them more often than 'eid'?

Then there was the incident with the washing machine repair man.  My washer was playing up big time; continuing to wash ad infinitum unless I manually switched it off. The mendy-man had been out to it five times already and I felt that he was beginning to think I was inventing a problem to garner his attention.  Whenever I booked a service call he would come round, twiddle a bit, take a bit off, put a bit on then do a test wash and declare that all was fine and dandy. I would confidently load up after he left and flick on the boil wash before I went to bed.  Lo and behold, when I came down to make coffee in the morning the bloody thing would still be wheezing away on its boil wash with my poor tortured whites beating against the door, screaming to be let out.

The sixth service call came and went and I still had a dodgy washer.  I told Ged  we would have to buy a new one because there was no way the man would believe me if I told him the machine was still not working. Ged suggested I make a time-lapse film of my never-ending wash cycle.  Which I did.  Then I sent a message to the mendy-man telling him I had made a film for him over the weekend and could he possibly pop round to see it? No predictive text misunderstandings there but then Ged pointed out that he may think I had been making a film of myself rather than the washing machine.  Or maybe a film of me and the washer together (which reminds me of a story Margi Clarke once told me when she interviewed me for The Good Sex Guide many years ago.  She had mentioned having a very special relationship with the spin cycle of her washing machine).

The repair man sent a text to say he would be round the next day between 2 and 4pm.  I replied by texting that if I was not in when he arrived I would only 'be at the pimp on the corner' and he should call me.  I'd typed in 'shop' not bloody 'pimp'!

As it happened, a different engineer arrived.  And fixed the machine.  Which meant it definitely looked like I fancied the first one because I never called back again.  Well, not yet.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Direct Doorstep Marketing

"Mum, can we have some Walker's Stars?" asked Joe (6) in Tesco.

"Walker's what?  Where are they?  Have you seen them on the shelves or have you just seen the ad on TV?"

"I saw them on the doorstep." replied Joe.

Zoe (11) explained.  "It's how we find out about all the new snacks.  The empty packets end up outside our front door."

Strangely, all the litter of the neighbourhood seems to get sucked into a vortex and then deposited on our doorstep.  Daily.  Here is a photograph of today's selection with 'Spirals' (the pink packet) emerging as the most desirable newcomer of the day.

I try to clear them away before Ged leaves the house lest he file a report to the Police (see earlier post).

Ged said, "There's something in the wood shed . . ."

by graffiti artist Ged Collins

For months now we've been coming home to find the door to the log store open, indicating that someone has been checking to see what's in there.  "What are they hoping to find?" mused Ged-the-lovely-husband before setting out to buy yet more security lights.  He worked through the afternoon installing them so our home now has a lovely Colditz feel on approaching.  I still can't get used to them and jump every time I put my key in the lock.  The search beam hits and I think someone is standing behind me with a torch in one hand and a gun in the other.

Then last week Ged walked into the kitchen with a pot of glue.  "I found this in the log store.  Glue sniffers must be using it at night.  I'd better set up cameras and we may have to inform the Police."
We do have to be a bit security conscious with Ged being a jeweller but I did wonder why the hell anyone would want to cramp and contort themselves inside our spidery log store to partake of a bit of glue.  "Are you sure it's sniffy glue, darling?  Should we check before calling the Police?"

And so Zoe the 11 yr old found mum and dad inhaling glue in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon.

It was definitely sniffy glue.  "The funny thing is" said Ged "that it's exactly the glue I need for repairing the plastic connection to the sewage pipe at the front of the house."  I could see the search light flick on in his brain.  "Oh, I think I may have put it there myself, actually.  I sort of remember buying  glue a while ago and putting it out there ready to do the job. I hid it under a log so the kids wouldn't fnd it. Then I forgot."

Yesterday I came home to find Ged had sprayed the word 'LOGS' on the log store door with silver paint. "Darling, why have you done that?  It looks a right old mess.  Were you worried you would forget where we keep the logs?"

No.  He thought that if he sprayed 'LOGS' on the door then robbers, drug dealers and the like would take him at his word and go home without checking.  Of course he could just lock the log store door but as we spend a great deal of our lives searching for missing keys he prefers to leave the key in the lock.

"And where have you put the glue for fixing the poo pipe?" asked I.

"Back in the log store, hidden under a log so the kids don't find it."

Which means he'll forget and we'll be going through this whole sorry process again in a month's time.  Unless he sprays 'AND GLUE' beneath the word 'LOGS'.  Bless him.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hotel Hell and the Big Sell

Yesterday,  a young lady tried to sell me a membership to the Hilton Business Club.  Ged and I would enjoy free dining whenever we booked our business associates into one of their hotels.

I cut her sales pitch short to ask, "Do you have a copy of my complaint about our last Hilton experience?"  She didn't, so I suggested she find and read it before trying to sell me anything again.

Hilton Manchester, December 30th 2010.  My best friend came all the way from London to babysit so Ged and I could play out without the kids.  Shortly after midnight, as we were making our way back to our room from the Hilton's Cloud bar, the fire alarms went off.  A recorded voice boomed through the corridors telling us to quickly make our way out of the building. Yes, we all thought  there could be a bomb about to go off and I for one was asking myself why on earth we had booked into a towering glass spike of a hotel that had 'terrorist target' written all over it. Heels clicked like castanets as we legged it down the stairs, just one slip away from a stumble, a push and  mass panic. Once on the street, wrapped in foil blankets, we were at least thankful to be dressed underneath and kept an eager eye eye out for any guests who may not have had time to get the rubber off and the gimps out.    Then we saw the sprinklers go off, sending water cascading down the windows and through the ceiling into reception. An electrical fault in the spa was apparently the cause and  we were only allowed back to our rooms after two hours. The next morning we were told swimming was out of the question as the ceiling had collapsed into the pool.  Lovely.

The pool was the reason we chose the Hilton. There are only a handful of hotels in central Manchester with swimming pools. The year before we had booked into the Manchester Midland on Boxing Day. THEY CLOSE THE POOL OVER CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR AND DO NOT MENTION THIS ON THEIR BOOKING WEBSITE!!!! The Midland staff apologised by upgrading us to the most palatial suite we had ever seen. The heating was broken, it was freezing and  THERE WERE NO ENGINEERS TO FIX THE HEATING OVER CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR!

It is actually very rare that we have a trouble free hotel stay either with or without the kids.  We seem to attract trouble.  Daughter Zoe once split her head open on a glass table in the reception of the Blackpool Hilton and son Joe managed to get someone else's poo stuck beneath his fingernails when he picked (what he believed to be) 'pebbles' out of the plughole in our local Mercure hotel.

So I advise anyone trying to sell me anything connected to any hotel I have ever visited to check their complaints book first or risk a tongue lashing.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Liz Taylor's Diamonds for Foreplay

Did anyone see the amazing programme last night about Liz's jewels?  The highlight had to be Joan Collins remembering a dinner with Liz and Princess Margaret.  Liz was wearing her newly acquired, enormous diamond solitaire.  Princess Margaret remarked "It's a little vulgar though, isn't it?"  Liz handed the ring to PM and said, "Try it on".  As Princess Margaret slipped it on her finger, Liz said, "Not so vulgar now, is it?"

My favourite Liz Taylor film ever is X, Y and Zee where she ends up in bed with Mia Farrow.  For some reason it's not on the LoveFilm list and I need to see it again.  Especially as husband Ged has never seen it.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Queen and her sloths

Northern Life have asked if I can write about the Diamond Jubilee for my next column so I've been googling 'The Queen' for interesting facts.  A list of all the wild animals she's been given as presents could be a starting point.  I believe she gave her sloths to London Zoo.  I saw the sloths at London Zoo last week and if I had been given one as a pet I would definitely have kept it.  Sloths are so funny and just because they move so bloody slowly.  It must have taken ten minutes for the ZSL sloth to stretch it's leg and move from one branch to the next.  Queenie could have laid in bed being royally amused as her sloths tried to climb from one silken curtain to another.  And it's not as if she would have to clean up their poo herself, is it?
Already had to change my profile picture because daughter Zoe said the first one was too scary.  I like looking scary though.  Every hairdresser I've ever had always suggests a hairdo to 'soften' my face.  This usually entails blowdrying my hair so it actually COVERS most of my face.  And I can tell you now, hairdressers don't like it when you say you like looking hard and edgy.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Good grief!  I thought setting up a blog was supposed to be easy. . .  This is a test, hello world . . .