J is for Joan Rivers. And a cat. #AtoZChallenge #Cats

Joan Rivers was famous for her age-defying plastic surgeries, self-deprecating humour and her sharp put-downs.  And her cat interviewing skills.

I first discovered Joan at the age of fifteen, when I picked up a copy of The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz. The highly entertaining, crude, offensive and non-pc ‘unauthorised biography’ of Joan’s former BFF: Heidi Abromowitz, the girl who couldn’t say no. This intimate profile disclosed Heidi’s deepest, darkest secrets and included the condensed version of Heidi’s unpublished bestseller, How to Make Love to Anything Anywhere. It would be fair to say that I learnt a lot from this book.

Joan wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and offended many people but she was responsible for some fabulous one-liners:

People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.

I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor.

The first time I see a jogger smiling, I’ll consider it.

You know you’re getting old when work is a lot less fun and fun is a lot more work.

I once dated a guy so dumb, he couldn’t count to 21 unless he was naked.

And my all time favourite line, which I choose to read as a piece of advice that I’ve made it my life’s mission to stick to:

I hate housework. You make the beds, you do the dishes, and six months later, you have to start all over again.

 

 

Z is for Zoooooooom

Hurrah!!  The #atozchallenge is over and I can go back to posting twice a year.  It’s been quite a stressful process; trying to fit writing daily posts in between work, cooking, cleaning (alright, maybe not that) and watching Friends.  Trying to find tenuous links to stories or snippets I’d already written.  Worrying about losing most of my followers, who obviously seem to prefer quality over quantity 😉

On the plus side, it’s got my creative juices flowing again (might have to see a doctor for that) and made me write again – which hopefully will result in books actually getting finished.  And I’ve found a handful of wonderful new blogs to follow.

So let’s celebrate with the classic Zoom, which always makes me think of Only Fools and Horses (I do do other things apart from watch TV, honestly…)

Now I’m off to catch some zzzzzzzzz.

#atozchallenge #zoom

 

 

Y is for Yoghurt. Or Yogurt.

…for our American readers.

Yoghurt is defined as, ‘A semi-solid sourish food prepared from milk fermented by added bacteria.’  Mmmm, tasty.  As well as being a fine fodder, it also has many other uses:

Bad joke alert!!!

Two cups of yogurt walk into a bar.  The bartender says, “We don’t serve your kind in here.”

One cup of yogurt says, “Why not? We’re cultured individuals.”

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#atozchallenge #yoghurt #yogurt #Brooklyn 99

 

 

X is for Xenodochial etc

Today’s #atozchallenge explores the wonderful world of one of my favourite groups of people.

Xenodochial: Hospitable; kindly to strangers

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Xanthippe: Ill-tempered woman

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Xenoglossia: Person’s knowledge of a language never studied

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Xanthocomic: Yellow-haired

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Xenodochium: Building for the reception of strangers

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#Fawlty Towers All x-rated words from phrontistery.info

W is for Willies

Today’s #atozchallenge was going to be W is for Work. I started writing an amusing, yet insightful, post about work and all its difficulties – the stupid targets, ridiculous appraisals, having to deal with people who are total dicks, the wasted time when I could be doing something more productive, like writing blog posts or watching reruns of Castle – but then it became so whiny, weary and woeful that I had to stop for fear of losing those hardy readers that haven’t been scared off by the A-Z Challenge.

So instead you’ve got a bunch of Willies.  Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V is for Victoria Wood as Seen by Me

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I felt genuinely upset by the death of Victoria Wood last week. Other recent celebrity deaths, such as David Bowie or Alan Rickman, have also saddened me but Victoria’s shocked me. I think it’s because of how young she was and that she was regularly in my living room (via the TV, sadly not actually sitting on my sofa – or settee, as she would probably have said) growing up and so I felt like I knew her. Or at least I connected with her humour, her intelligence and her on-screen personality – and the fact that she wasn’t a skinny minny. I probably knew her better, or saw more of her, than many of my distant relatives, so when she died, it almost felt like a member of my extended family dying.

When someone we know, be it in person or a celebrity, dies, not only do we grieve for them, it reminds us of our own mortality. It makes us question our lives: ‘What am I doing? Have I achieved everything I want to? Or am I wasting my time?’

This really hit me when Prince also died last week. I wasn’t a huge Prince fan, although I liked all his 80s music, but I adored 1999. It was a huge song at parties when I was a teenager, when we’d scream out the lyrics, thinking how far away 1999 was and how successful and happy we’d be then. And now 1999 is 17 years in the past and life is moving so quickly and where does all the time go and WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!! (Sorry, yesterday’s post is still with me…)  I confess to shedding a little tear when 1999 came on the radio the day after Prince’s death.

We’ve gone through a boom time in the last twenty or thirty years, when TV, movies and music (and internet) have exploded, resulting in a lot more celebrities than in our parents’ or grandparents’ eras. But as we get older, we don’t tend to follow young music or know the names of young actors or Youtubers, so our body of celebrities that we know and love will keep getting smaller and smaller. And our outpouring of grief will probably continue to grow larger and larger as we feel the need to share our grief with others on social media.

For many people, this sharing of grief can help them deal with their own feelings; they want to feel that others are going through the same thing. Personally, I don’t need to read what other celebrities have said in 140 characters or less to know how I feel about someone’s death. In fact, it does sometimes feel like a race for celebs to get their vacuous and repetitive, ‘Wow, what a legend. The world is a poorer place today!’ tweets out there as quickly as possible for fear that the Daily Mail will run an article on how unfeeling they are.

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Anyway, less of lesser celebs – back to Victoria.

Her clever and sublime way with words was easily on a par with Alan Bennett, beautifully observed and down to earth. I probably quote her at least once a month – I just have to hear the words Grouting, Woman’s Weekly or Hostess Trolley to burst into song, and I can’t say the name Kimberley unless it’s in a strong Northern accent. (I also do a pretty good Mrs Overall impersonation when drunk, which is improving with each passing year…) My husband still won’t eat prawns, thanks to Victoria, “Don’t have the prawns, they hang around sewage outlet pipes treading water with their mouths open.”

Quotes and songs have been all over the internet but here are some of my picks:

“I once went to one of those parties where everyone throws their car keys into the middle of the room. I don’t know who got my moped, but I drove that Peugeot for years.”

“People think I hate sex. I don’t. I just don’t like things that stop you seeing the television properly.”

“Jogging is for people who aren’t intelligent enough to watch television.”

“All my friends started getting boyfriends, but I didn’t want a boyfriend, I wanted a thirteen-colour biro.

She wrote some fabulous characters, such as Kitty, played by Patricia Routledge. Northern and proud of it, she speaks as she finds: “My three rules for a long life are regular exercise, hobbies and a complete avoidance of midget gems. I’m not one for dance classes, feeling if God had wanted us to wear leotards he would have painted us purple.”

But I think my favourite line was Victoria talking about the Pencil Test:

“They said that if you could hold a pencil under your boob, you needed a bra. Me, I could hold a whole branch of W.H. Smiths.”

I could relate to that, just as I could relate to Victoria’s warmth, wit and intellect, all of which seemed attainable for us ordinary folks.

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It seems appropriate to finish with a song.  Obviously it’s going to be Let’s Do It, but first, to say goodbye to Victoria, here are the poignant lyrics she wrote to the Dinnerladies theme tune.   Oh dear, this is going to set me off again…

Getting up, getting out, getting on, getting going,
Wears away at the dreams that you hold in your heart,
All the scared little choices you make without knowing,
Take away from the thing that you had at the start.

Day by day, drops of water wear the stone away,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…

All the dreams that you had when it all lay before you,
All the plans that you made, all the things you would do,
All the schemes that you knew time would bring to fruition,
Did they happen? Not so far, at least not to you.

Day by day, drops of water wear the stone away,
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…

 

This is today’s post for the #atozchallenge.  Four to go…

U is for Urn

What’s a Greek urn?

About 1000 euros a month…

Yes, I know the picture is the yet another type of ‘Urn’, but it makes me laugh almost as much as when Top of the Pops showed a backdrop of darts champ Jocky Wilson to Dexy’s Midnight Runners song, ‘Jackie Wilson Said’.

I particularly like this sort of urn.

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I don’t like this sort of urn.

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And this sort of urn would just freak me out.

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The website says, “The Rings of Time Hourglass Keepsake Urn is a wonderful way to reflect on the sands of time and the time that you and your loved one shared.  The hourglass is the ultimate symbol of the passage of time.”

No shit, Sherlock.  Imagine using your loved ones to time your boiled eggs in the morning.  I’d just be thinking, ‘Mmm, soft boiled eggs…ready in two minutes…time is going so fast…where does the time go…I feel so old…WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!!’ before needing to go back to bed for a lie down.

Let’s return to this type of urn from those naughty Greeks to get all thoughts of death out of our heads.

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S is for Scraping the Barrel – Photos from the Italian Lakes

I’ve put this post under S but, quite frankly, it could just as easily gone under R for Random or Running out of Ideas.  Anyway, photos from a fabulous trip to the Italian Lakes a couple of years ago.  Mainly Lake Garda and Lake Como – they’ve sort of merged into one in my mind now.  But it was all very beautiful and totally worth visiting.  #atozchallenge

View from Menaggio Promenade
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Riva Del Garda
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Castle at Sirmione

 

Sirmione Harbour
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Garda Promenade
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R is for Renegade Writer

Another story (well, the first chapter) for today’s A-Z Challenge or rather #atozchallenge – I’m trying out Twitter…

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Renegade Writer

Arnold took the final sheet of his 90,000-word novel, Strike Hard, from the printer and added it to the rather impressive looking stack of pages on his desk.

It had taken over eight months of trying to fit in writing around his full time job. Eight months of getting up at 5.30am, turning down social invitations and letting the house fall apart around him – all of which caused his wife, Jen, to constantly nag at him. He’d become adept at letting her discontented voice drift around him like spring blossom dropping from the trees, gently blowing in the breeze, occasionally landing on ones shoulder before falling to the ground, not making any impact on anyone or anything who lay in its path.

‘You’ll never finish it, Arnold.’

‘Don’t know why you’re bothering, Arnold.’

‘It’s all about who you know, Arnold. You won’t be able to find a publisher for it.’

Well, she could stick the proverbial pipe in it now.

Because, finally, he’d finished. And, if he said so himself, it was rather good. A twisted thriller in the style of Harlen Coban or James Patterson. Ok, so it wasn’t a great literary novel or one that was going to be up for the Booker Prize. But he was pretty confident that it was gripping story that could keep the reader up late at night; desperate to find out what happens next to the hero, George Striker, who is forced to become a vigilante after the police refuse to take the disappearance of his wife seriously.   Arnold had put in plenty of twists and turns, a few red herrings and a surprise ending.

Arnold glanced at the clock. Almost 7pm. Jen should be back from work at any moment and – damn! He’d just remembered that she’d asked him if he could have dinner ready for when she returned. Stuff it. He’d get a takeaway to celebrate and open a bottle of wine. She’d stop complaining once she saw the completed book. He’d do one more back up onto his USB stick and then he’d ring for a curry.

Back up done, Arnold whistled merrily as he perused the Indian takeaway menu. Mmm, chicken jalfrezi with saag aloo or maybe a prawn balti? So many delicious choices.   Jen, of course, would just have a korma, as usual. She didn’t like to try anything new when it came to food. Or, indeed, life, now that he thought about it. She was still working at the same branch of solicitors where she started as an office junior at 16. Office junior: did they even exist anymore? He couldn’t see some stroppy school-leaver being happy with that title nowadays. They were probably called administrative executives now.

He phoned through the order and opened a bottle of white wine.   Just a small glass before Jen got back. Flicking on the TV, he distractedly took in the tiny portions and ridiculously fancy food on some cookery show as he pottered about, getting out cutlery and setting the table.  He topped up his glass and put the wine back in the fridge. No more until Jen came in. Where was she? It was 7.30 and the curry would be here any minute.

Arnold texted her mobile: Curry on way. Wine open!

The cookery show finished to be replaced by a DIY show. What was it with modern TV? Where were the decent dramas and comedy shows of his youth? Maybe Strike Hard could be made into a three-part drama? Now there’s a thought. He pondered who could play the lead role as he took the wine out of the fridge and added a splash more to his glass.

The doorbell rang as he was deliberating between Colin Farrell or Ross Kemp for the role of George Striker. Nope, definitely Colin Farrell. He paid for the curry and carried the plastic bag into the kitchen. The spicy aroma smelt good and his stomach rumbled hungrily.   Come on, Jen.

Arnold rang her phone but it went to voice mail. He left a message, checking that she was on her way. He’d just have a couple of poppadums to tide him over.

Twenty minutes later, the DIY programme had finished and Arnold had eaten most of his jalfrezi, half of the rice and all of the saag aloo.   The bottle of wine was almost gone and Jen still hadn’t returned.  This wasn’t like her at all. She had a set routine on a Friday.   She finished work at 5pm, went to her aerobics class for an hour and was back just after 7pm. Regular as clockwork for the last twelve years.   Arnold’s stomach felt slightly queasy and he didn’t think it was just down to the wine and curry. Should he be worried about Jen’s lateness?   He rang her number again.   Still no reply. Who did she do aerobics with? Was it Sandy? Did he have her number? He looked in the leather address book that Jen kept by the phone. Yep, there it was, trust Jen to keep the book up to date.

‘Hi, Sandy, it’s Arnold. Jen’s husband.’

‘Oh, hey Arnold. Hope Jen’s ok? Not like her to miss the class.’

‘She didn’t go to aerobics?’

‘No, I rang her phone but she didn’t reply. Is she ok?’

‘Um, I’m not sure, to tell you the truth. She hasn’t come back from work yet. I assumed she’d gone to her class as normal.’   Ok, it was official. Arnold could start to worry.

‘Maybe she went round to Pam’s?’ said Sandy. ‘You know Simon’s had some sort of fling at work? Pam was trying to get me to go around tonight but I’m off out in a minute. She probably rang Jen too.’

Of course. Pam had rung Jen two or three times last night, in tears about Simon’s affair. That’s where Jen would be.

‘Cheers, Sandy. I’ll give her a ring.’

Pam hadn’t heard from Jen since last night, but had Arnold heard what a bastard Simon had been? It had been going on for months, some medical rep tart, apparently, all short skirts and too much make-up…Arnold tried to extricate himself from the conversation several times before successfully managing to hang up on Pam.

Should he start calling all of her friends? Was it silly to think about calling the police?   Oh, come on, Arnold, she’s only an hour late. Probably got caught up at work and then stuck in traffic.   Work: of course, Rita! She and Jen shared an office so she’d know if Jen was late leaving work.

‘Rita, it’s Arnold Cooper, Jen’s husband. I just wondered if she was working late tonight?’

‘Jen? She didn’t come in today. She sent a text this morning to say she had flu and wouldn’t be in until Monday.   Where are you? Aren’t you with her?’

‘I’m at home. She’s not here.’ Arnold was now having a major panic attack. ‘She left for work at the usual time this morning.’

‘Oh my god. Have you checked the hospitals? Maybe she fell ill on the way to work and texted me from a hospital?’

‘I’ll call them now. Gotta go, Rita.’

What the hell was going on? Jen had left for work at 8.15, the same time as she did everyday. She’d followed the exact routine as usual. Up at 7am, shower, dressed, breakfast (two Weetabix and a cup of tea) whilst listening to Radio Two.   Then they’d left the house together, before getting into their separate cars and driving to work.   Nothing out of the ordinary at all.

He opened up his laptop and googled local hospitals.

To be continued…