The house is freezing. The electricity meter is shrieking “Eeeeeee-oooooo-eeeeeee-oooooo!” in an impatient demand for money. The cat is mewing incessantly in an impatient demand for food. My tummy is rumbling for similar reasons. My eyes won’t stay open because I have not had any coffee for a week. (Well, five days. Could be a year.)

None of these issues are because of the fact that I have no money (for I have been budgeting, and as a result have very nearly enough to live on!!!! It’s awfully reassuring), but rather because I am

(a) forgetful, and did not set the heating to come on before I’d be arriving home

(b) lazy, and putting off going out into the black, wet dreariness to go to the shop for an electricity top-up

(c) cruel, and witholding food as a form of punishment for a Very Bad Cat

(d) indecisive, and reluctant to give in to the temptation to go to the Chinese while I’m at the shop getting the electricity top-up, but unwilling to start making dinner because I know that I will in fact give in to temptation if I put it off for long enough

(e) on a self-imposed coffee detox, having cut out everything else and yet still suffering from mad, volcanic skin. 

I could sit here all night, ignoring everything that’s going on around me. And why not? Sadly, though, I suspect that I may soon have to get off my backside and make things happen. Before I run out of electr

Inspired By You (#2)

Ed suggested: Grab a book, any book. Open at random. List the first five words or phrases that are suitable for opinionating on. Opinionate on them.

The closest book to hand was The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, quite simply the funniest, cleverest and yet silliest book ever written. I opened it – randomly! –  at chapter 23, which is a short chapter explaining the world from the point of view of dolphins. Obviously. From it, I’ve picked the following five topics: the wheel, New York, the impending destruction of the planet Earth, football, and mice. Let’s see what comes out, right? If it’s crap – blame Ed. It was his idea.

The wheel: I’m all in favour of the wheel. My car has 6, including steering and spare, and my hamster used to exercise in one before it died (it has exercised less frequently since then). Big Wheels at funfairs are always good, and – on that note – I do love the song that goes “big wheels keep on turning…”. Wheel of Fortune was always good when skiving off sick from school. Yes, I think I can honestly say I’m glad they invented the wheel. I can’t think of anything negative to say about it.

This is a good start: my opinions are occasionally positive!

New York: I heart NY, I really do. I went there last summer and I could honestly live there. I’m a city person, but until I went to New York, my opinion of cities was pretty much based on Glasgow. Going to NYC was, for a city person, what it must be like for a caffeine addict tasting a double tall capuccino for the first time after a lifetime of instant coffee. When I arrived, I did what most tourists do on stepping out on to a New York sidewalk for the first time – I looked up. NYC is tall. Very tall. And loud – the hustle and bustle of New Yorkers and tourists is heavily punctuated with the honking of dozens of horns at any given time, despite the incredibly stern-looking NO HONKING signs all over the place. A ride in a yellow cab is a must: it’s pricey compared with the Metro, but it’s worth the extra money for sheer entertainment value. Like a rollercoaster crossed with dodgems, only with honking, swearing, and a driver whose name contains 14 consonants and no vowels whatsoever. Plus, the cabs are air-conditioned – New York is warm and sticky in the summer, and the heat and smell of the subway cling to you like a cobweb does when you’ve accidentally walked into one.  Ohhh – and the bagels and coffee are out of this world – as is the Brooklyn Bridge at night. You can see the famous Manhattan skyline like in the opening credits of Friends – and, if you have friends like mine who are in the know about such things, you can go see the actual apartment building from  Friends!

The impending destruction of the planet Earth:  Whatever. I get irritated by Green People who tell me I’m killing the earth by spraying something to get rid of the smell of cat before the landlady visits. I know it would make a difference if everybody stopped spraying things and everybody recycled, but is everybody going to? No. So why should I suffer bad smells, walk 5 miles in the rain when I’ve got a car, and deprive my shopping of carrier bags, while the majority of people enjoy said luxuries and the planet continues to die anyway? There are more immediate problems (than the death of the planet, yes, I realise how ignorant this sounds now that I’m seeing it written down) to deal with, so why don’t you just carry on doing your bit for the environment, I’ll carry on doing mine (i.e. not polluting rivers, not burning down forests, not knowing what asbestos is etc.), and the earth will hopefully still be around by the time we croak it. If not, sure what odds? It’s not like it was ever going to be permanent. Sometimes you just have to accept the inevitable. Let it go.

Football: Sexy guys run around a big field wearing shorts and sweating a lot. They kick a ball. Sometimes they spit, which is not nice to watch. Less sexy guys sit in front of their televisions yelling at afore-mentioned footballers (who CANNOT HEAR YOU). They also sweat a lot, mainly because they’re overweight, unfit, and in a cosy house with the central heating cranked up, as opposed to on a field in the rain. Football is a kids’ game for the playground, or a fun pastime for adults in the park. It is not a subject for endless debate and tactical discussion, and does not deserve to tie up billions of pounds of our country’s economy. Harsh? Tell the homeless guy or the starving child how much Beckham (or latest footballing ‘genius’, whoever he may be) was sold for. Does it make sense? Pah. I repeat, pah.

Mice: Creepy wee critters, but harmless. McLovely amused me greatly last night by informing me, with genuine concern, about a new breed of supermouse that has invaded his house. He keeps some traps in a cupboard in the utility room, and one has vanished, leaving behind only a confusing smear of blood. The only possible explanation is that the mouse has entered the cupboard via a very small hole at the back, the trap has snapped shut on its tail, and it has bravely dragged itself along the shelf, pushed open the cupboard door, jumped out, shut the door behind it and gone off to warn its family about the Cupboard of Death – with the trap still attached to its tail!!! McLovely is indignant. “I mean, how on earth did it open the door, never mind drag the trap behind it?!” he kept demanding crossly. I just thought I’d take this opportunity to warn readers of this new breed of mouse. Maybe they have superpowers, I don’t know. Just be on your guard; take some kind of preventative measures. Get a cat. Avoid cheese. These are just a few helpful suggestions. Whatever you do, just be aware that they’re out there.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I was in a very good mood at the start of this post, left it for a few hours after the New York bit, got quite depressed in the meantime, started to write, and was fairly stable by the time I finished. Writing is so theraputic. It’s unfortunate for the “Earth” and “Football” categories, but sometimes you just have to rant.

Well, that was fun. I speak for myself, of course.

Undercover Work

I like to think of myself as a fairly tolerant girl, but there are some things in life that I genuinely hate. Vending machine ‘coffee’ is one of these things. Bullying is another. Not to mention cotton wool, the Big Scary Roundabout at Coleraine, war and midges.

However, the thing that really takes the biscuit and is the icing on the cake (apologies for double food analogy – I’m a bit hungry), the one thing that makes my blood boil and robs me of my peace, my Most Hated Thing In The Entire Universe is: trying to change a duvet cover.

Oh MAN, to borrow an expression from my neighbours, it has got to be the most thankless, unrewarding, physically draining, smugly frustrating task that ever was. Taking the old cover off is absolutely no problem. I’ve got that down to a fine art. I expect I could probably go pro soon in the whole taking-the-cover-off game. It’s when you attempt to replace it with the new one that things start to get so depressing you just want to hurl yourself out of the bedroom window. Turn it inside out and hold the corners says your mum. Stuff the whole duvet inside, grab an end, and shake it contradicts a friend. Everywhere, they are everywhere with their over-confident advice and their ‘foolproof’ tips that clearly haven’t come up against a fool of this calibre before. I’ve tried everything. I’ve followed every last sodding tip and still it takes me at least half an hour to complete this weekly exercise in self-punishment. Either I don’t have enough hands or the duvet is too big or God is teaching me a lesson in endurance and I’m just not getting it.

I’m standing there wrestling with the wretched thing, grimly trying to work out how much time I spend doing this as a percentage of my life thus far. What about when I’m 70? How many entire days will I have wasted by then, just shaking a duvet cover till I’m red in the face? Maybe it’s just greedy of me to be sleeping in a double bed when there’s only one of me (but I like to sprawl, and there does need to be room for Kat the Cat and Eeyore), and perhaps double duvet covers were designed to be changed by a team, not as an individual effort. It’s almost enough to make you wish you were married, so that there’d be someone to help with putting the duvet cover on.

To top it all off, tonight I had to extract a facecloth and an odd sock (could this be an answer at last??) from inside the cover before I even engaged in battle, and then when I was triumphantly buttoning the last button I realised the cat was somehow inside with the duvet, panicking and trying in vain to escape.

It should not be this difficult, and I demand, albeit somewhat hysterically, that something be done about it. In an age of both breathtaking technology and unprecedented laziness, surely there’s an easier way?


1. Coffee – genuinely, honestly, truly and sincerely – helps.

2. Friends are people who can make you laugh when it’s all going wrong, and celebrate with you when it’s going well. Good friends do both  those things, but also step in and do something to take the pressure off when they see your head’s about to explode.

3. Eating crisps by the multipack makes you gain an awful lot of weight.

4. If you drop a handful of change comprising of several pennies, lots of 2p/5p pieces, and one pound coin, the only one that will roll down the nearby drain will be the pound coin.

5. Laughing is good for you.

6. Hedgehogs climb walls.

7. If you leave a carton of milk sitting out all day, then take a drink from it, you will throw up quite violently.

8. You can go through a whole day without seeing anyone you know, but the moment you accidentally drive the wrong way down a one-way street, you will see many, many familiar faces watching your humiliation in sympathetic amusement.

9. When you’re really dreading going somewhere, the roads will be clear and all the traffic lights will be green. When you’re late, traffic jams will actually materialise before your eyes, lights will stay red for ten minutes at a time, and you’ll inevitably have to stop for a train at the level crossing.

10. When you’ve been lying awake for half an hour willing yourself to get out of bed, and you finally make the decision to do it, the cat will come and curl up right beside you, all warm and snuggly, and start to purr in a very soothing and sleep-inducing way.

Bad choices

I overslept badly on Tuesday morning. I think I pressed snooze so many times on my alarm that it eventually just gave up trying; either that or I switched it off by mistake. In any case, I woke up to the sound of Happy Handyman (who I give a lift to work) banging on the front door at a quarter to nine. Given that we normally leave at twenty to, this put me into a right oul’ flap, and I don’t think I’ve recovered from the disorientated feeling yet.

Last night, following two more mornings of oh-crap-it-seriously-can’t-be-time-to-get-up-yet-can-it, which involved pressing snooze many, many times, I decided it was actually the fault of the alarm itself (and nothing to do with sitting chatting till 1am and then writing blogs). I’d had a beautiful ballad set on my phone’s alarm clock to gently rouse me from my slumber of a morning – slow, gentle piano music and a soft, soothing voice. It was too calm. Totally ridiculous having a lullaby-like song as your alarm clock, I realised.

I may have been a bit extreme with my new choice, though. I was somewhat panicked when, at 7.30am this morning, I was gently roused abruptly dragged from my dreams by the Kaiser Chiefs yelling


It had seemed like a good idea the night before. But in the cold light of day, when I was snug and warm under my duvet, having a most pleasant dream in which I was strolling along the beach with the current object of my affections in a terribly romantic fashion, it was nothing but a rude awakening and potential heart attack material. Poor Kat lost one of her nine lives and shot off the bed, out of the bedroom and down the stairs, all in the space of two seconds. I was in such a panic that I just flailed around helplessly for a moment, and the phone ended up crashing to the floor, still blaring away like it was angry with me for wanting to stay in bed.


it yelled accusingly. I did. I found snooze, and, trembling slightly, retreated beneath the duvet. Of course, no sooner had my heart begun to slow down to something approaching its normal rate, than the whole loud nightmare was noisily repeating itself, and I think I may have sworn a little bit as I fumbled with the alarm tone settings.

Ten minutes later, and a soothing ballad filled the air.

And I overslept.