Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Regular readers know I'm a displaced northerner living in that London place. Going 'home', especially at Christmas, brings a strong sense of place and a wonderful feeling of quiet serenity that I've yet to find in the big city.

And when you're born, bred and brought up living by the sea, by 'eck, you don't half miss it when you're landlocked in London.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

That's me done - and I'm off. Back before the New Year. Have a good one!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A novel idea

I made a vow to myself in the summer to do two things before the end of this year. You can find out what those two things are by clicking here - but only if you'd like to.

The first of the two things has been taking care of itself without any input from me.

The second has been more problematic but also more exciting.

And so, I am as pleased as punch to say that after much thought, scribbling and planning, I have today started writing my very first novel. I have no idea if it will be any good (although I'm writing it as if it will be). All I know is that if I don't get it out of my head and down in print, I'll go a bit mad.

Wordcount so far: 1,444. Only 58,556 to go.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Letters to the Editor

By jings, I'm in a book.

I had a couple of letters published in The Guardian this year including one in Notes & Queries but I'm not sure which one they've included in this book. However, I'm on the list of contributors so I must be in there somewhere.

Here Come The Girls

I like to think I'm pretty media savvy (yeah, right) and can discern good telly ads from bad. Well, whatever I might like to think, I'm loving the Boots Christmas advert where the legion of women workers get ready for their office Christmas party to the tune of Here Come The Girls.

Here's the whole song in all of its fantastic glory by Ernie K Doe from 1970.

Christmas tags

I've got the plot, I've drawn a diagram and I was ready to sit down and start doing item number two on my to-do list. Honestly, I was. But I've just been tagged by Old Cheeser, so making a start on writing my first novel will just have to wait.

When people say 'Christmas' you immediately think

Favourite Christmas memory: Getting a Teeny Tiny Tears doll from Santa
Favourite Christmas song/carol: What else but this?

Favourite Christmas movie

Favourite Christmas character
Favourite Christmas ornament/object: Snow, snow, deep, deep, snow

Plans for this Christmas
Is Christmas your favourite holiday? I love it but I love summer hols in Spain more

And now, with the power vested in me, I hereby do tag: Kaz, Trina, Tvor and Geoff

What would Kirsty have said?

I've just read on the BBC website that Radio 1 have censored The Pogues' Christmas song, Fairytale of New York, taking out the word faggot and removing the line an old slut on junk. Fairytale is a slurred love song between two drunks and the joy of it is its cynical sting. So was the BBC right to censor it? Peter Tatchell seems to think so and Lubin agrees but I'm not so sure. Do the words faggot and slut hold so much power that there's a need for censoring?

It's seven years to the day since Kirsty MacColl died. Remind yourself how bloody good she was and listen to one of my favourite Christmas songs, live, complete with faggot and slut.

Save the Ryhope pigeon cree

It's not often that the north-east village I come from makes local news, never mind international and headline news. But that's what's been happening as the fight to save Ryhope pigeon crees rages on - and rightly so. I remember walking past the pigeon crees on my way to and from school. I know some of the men who still have their crees on the land. Like most other Ryhope people, I also know who is behind Worktalent, the company who want to shift the crees off the site and develop it for profit.

Even Robbie Coltrane and a telly crew called to Ryhope to see what is now one of Britain's strangest listed buildings.

The pigeon men's case is being heard in Parliament again today, let's hope local MP Fraser Kemp can work his magic once again.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Don't forget to breathe... two, three

I did something today that I haven't done in months, and oh, it felt good.

Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of yoga but I had to give it up after five years when I moved to a new job and couldn't find a class. There was one place I was recommended to try but they only offered colonic irrigation, which I didn't think was a fair swap, so declined.

Anyway, to help lose stress so bad it brought on panic attacks for the first time in my life a few weeks ago, I've started practising yoga again. By 'eck, it's good stuff. Why isn't yoga free on the NHS? If I was Health Secretary, I'd make it so and if I was Education Secretary, I'd make it complusory in schools. But I'm neither of those, I'm just me. And being me means being able to blog and tell you in my very own words that yoga is A Good Thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Big floury baps

I've had a moan before about not being able to cook without the help of Sir Nigel of Slater. Yet oddly, I can bake remarkably well. I think this might be because with baking you can't really deviate from the recipe too much, you just follow it and end up with great results. With cooking, you have to jiggle things a bit and I'm no good at that. This means that athough I've never been able to cook a decent roast dinner, I can bake for England and usually do.

Dan Lepard's How To Bake column in the Guardian's Weekend magazine has some interesting recipes and this one for soft white baps gets full marks from me - and usually a rude snigger. Well, baps, it's just one of those words isn't it? Here's some I baked earlier today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A challenge to Stephen Fry

Having just written something about Stephen Fry reminded me that he and I have history, oh yes. He once emailed me a poem in response to one I emailed to him.

Now then, this was over a decade ago - but I am now laying down a challange to Mr Stephen Fry. If he reads this (as if... but hey, you never know) and can remember the poem that he comprised to rhyme with my first name (that's the real one, not the Flaming Nora one) then I'll donate £50 to a charity of his choice.

It's Behind You

Booked tickets to see Stephen Fry's panto at the Old Vic. Although it's bound to be fab (yes, that is Sandi Toksvig), I bet they don't sing this wonderful panto song. Am I the only one to remember it from childhood Christmas pantos from years ago?

Why does the brown cow give white milk when it only eats green grass?
That's the burning question
Let's have your suggestion
I don't know
And you don't know
So what do you think of that?
Why does the brown cow give white milk when it only eats green grass?

Coronation Street

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates for th'internet since 1995 but had to give them up in September this year. Well, guess what? They're back in all their glory. Corrie fans can find out more about the weekly updates and sign up to receive them in their email each week here, and there's a full archive here. By 'eck, it's good to be back.

I've also set up a new blog for the weekly updates with pictures right here.

Ho Ho How-do

The tree is up and the tinsel is draped.

One minute I'm not looking forward to Christmas and then the next... well, life has changed - heed my words here after this happened a few months ago - and it's full steam ahead for Christmas celebrations now with a smile on my face and a packet of crackers on the tree.

Oh yes, I'm all set. Let the celebrations begin.


This Christmas, and indeed at all times, be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Out and about in London

To Trafalgar Square today in central London to have a look at the new artwork on the fourth plinth. I don't know much about art, but I know what I like, and I liked this enough to take some pictures and blog 'em to share.

Human League at Hammersmith Apollo

As promised, here's a cheap and dirty review of the gig I promised here. It was fab.

Gigs don't often come more fun and this one was fantabulous. It was like a massive Human League sing-a-long karaoke dance party. Phil (now bald so no mad hair-do and sadly, no nipple exposed either) was in good voice and the girls, now well into their forties, the same as ever. Neither of them can hold a tune but when did that ever matter?

After doing the whole of the Dare album there was an interlude in which one of the band played a spine-tingling version of Hard Times then it was back on with Phil and the girls for some beltin' hits. It's amazing how the album and the hits sounded still so fresh, especially Being Boiled, despite it being released back in, gulp, 1978.

And I can add another celeb to my list of those spotted while out and about in London as we saw Matthew Kelly in the bar before the gig started. He's taller than he looks on the telly.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Off to see The Human League this weekend in London. They're performing all of their 1981 album Dare which for those of us of an, um, certain age, remains a seminal work. I can type words like seminal but I'd never say them in real life.

A full gig report, as always, will be blogged in due course. In the meantime, remind yourself how bloody good Human League were by having a look at Empire State Human, Sound of the Crowd and then treat yourself to A Crow and a Baby. Ok, I know only one of those is from Dare but still, all cracking stuff.

Gotta go now and find that black eye liner pencil. I think I left it somewhere back in 1981.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Have a horrible Christmas

Found out this week that someone I know has had his first novel published.

Filth Kiss is a horror novel written by CJ Lines. It's had a great review in Gorezone magazine that read: "...written with the style of a poetic genius. Don’t let the word poetic put you off; it’s just my way of saying ‘God, this guy can f**king write!’ and write with a viciousness you’ll have never encountered before.”

If that sounds like your cup of tea, then you can find out more here on CJ Lines' website and order the book from Amazon here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Frozen roses

Woke up this morning to -2.5c on the weather station, a lawn dusted with frost and frozen roses in the garden.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Sore nose, eyes hurt, lungs wheeze, second day off work wrapped up in a dressing gown watching brain-rotting daytime TV, fed up, feel down, nose streams, eyes run, ears ache, muscles burn, hair tingles.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Siouxsie at Camden Roundhouse

To Camden Roundhouse this week to see Siouxsie. Fantastic. All things considered, it was my second favourite gig of the year, coming close to, but not quite pipping this one.

When I went to see Editors recently, I cried out for the return of the hot and sweaty live music gig. Siouxsie at the Roundhouse provided all that and more. She did most of the new album Mantaray - which doesn't have a note wrong on it. She rocked it and knocked a few rough edges into it which made Into a Swan my song of the night. And she also threw in a few old favourites which kept everyone happy and made me jump up and down like I was 17 all over again. A wonderful gig.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Greatest Freelance Writing Tips In the World

Like writing in your spare time? Want to learn how to get paid properly for it?

Then, my friend, you need to buy Linda Jones' new book. It's not called The Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in the World, for nothing, you know. It's dead helpful, and is a tactile book of the exact shape and size that will make you want to keep picking it up and reading it. It's excellent and I highly recommend it.

Linda also blogs about freelance writing here too.

Christmas - yes or no?

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas. And I'm not ready for it, not yet. Well, ok, I've ordered my Christmas cards from here and got my leave and train ticket booked to head up north, but I'm not feeling in the least bit tingly about it just yet. It's weeks away, it's too commercial and Santa Claus isn't real. He's not, you know.

I'm just hoping I start feeling like this over the next few weeks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nick Lowe

To the Royal Festival Hall this week to see Nick Lowe. I loved him back then when he looked like this on the left but I seem to love his music even more now he looks like this.

My boyfriend isn't too keen that Mr Lowe has taken to tapping out his old rockin' hits like I Knew The Bride at half-speed, but I just think, well, they're his songs and he can play 'em how he likes. A good night.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The joy of Stotty

Relatives visiting from up north have brought with them necessities for this Mackem down in London. First off are a few copies of The Sunderland Echo, essential reading, but better than that are a couple of stotty cakes from Greggs the Bakers. Pure delight. I've already got them in my lunchbox and they could just turn out to be the best thing about today.

Just in case you don't know what a stotty cake is, and you'd like to know, you can find out more here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The tube station clang

It's not very often that I get excited when I hear a certain noise on my way to work each day. But there's a clang, a heavy clang, in the tube station I leave from every once in a while that fills my heart with glee. It's a heavy metal clang which signifies something's happening with the track or the points or whatever it is in the station in the tunnel out of view, and it can mean only one thing. An empty train is coming and I will get a seat.

Robert Dazzler, Esq.

What - or who - was the original Bobby Dazzler? In the north-east where I'm from, a bobby dazzler was usually referred to a baby or a child who was, like, super-cute as in: "That bairn's gorgeous, isn't she? A right bobby dazzler." Or, it was used to referred to something like a piece of jewellry that was shiny and huge, as in: "Her engagement ring's a right bobby dazzler". But where does the phrase bobby dazzler come from - anyone know? I'd love to think there was a person called Robert Dazzler, Esq.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fish fingers and Suggs

I had a rant at the telly last night when I saw Suggs advertising fish fingers. Nothing wrong with fish fingers, I love 'em and I'm quite fond of Suggs too. But I ranted away when I saw him selling his soul to the adman. Why couldn't he have been advertising something trendy, Doc Marten shoes, Brylcreem - anything but fish fingers? And when I finished my rant my boyfriend said he couldn't understand what I was going on about... and that's when it hit me. I was ranting because seeing Suggs on TV doing an advert, for something as mundane as fish fingers, meant the end of era as I knew it. It reminded me I'm not the 17 year old Madness fan I was once. I'm grown up and so is Suggs. It took a while for the realisation of the rant to hit home but when it did, a lump welled up in my throat and I had a bit of a moment.

If you haven't yet had your youth pulled to pieces by watching Suggs advertising fish fingers, it's online right here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

P-p-p-put back that penguin

Bought some penguin chocolate biscuits on the weekly shop at Morrisons. I saw them and thought: "Crikey, I haven't eaten those in years". So we took them home and I had one the other night and guess what - the biscuits are tiny. When did they shrink?

Or maybe the biscuits have stayed the same size and it's my hands that have got big?

What's your favourite Carry On... film?

Everyone has their favourite Carry On film. Oh go on, yes you do.

My top three favourite Carry On films are, in order of preference: Carry on at your Convenience, Carry on Screaming and Carry On Abroad. What's yours?

Where did the dollybird go?

She was around much of the 70s while I was growing up as I remember seeing her in the tabloids. On a Sunday night she'd be on the telly, enticing the male readers of the red tops to tune in to find out her sizzling hot secrets with the footballer/telly star of the day. And she was always blonde with huge knockers. Where's she gone?

Miss Brahams from Are You Being Served was a dolly bird, 'cos it says so here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bring back the hot and sweaty gig

Last time I was at Brixton Academy was earlier this year to see this band and I was there again last night to see Editors. It was a good gig, but that's all it was - good. There was no excitement, no getting lost in the music, no hot and sweaty jumping up and down, living just to sing along to the band. Where's it gone, that missing ingredident that sets a gig on fire and gives it some spark? It was the first gig I'd been to since the smoking ban came in so there was no smoking and not much drinking going on either. While that might bode well for gig goers' livers and lungs, it did nothing for the atmosphere and made the gig seem like a well mannered if noisy middle-class school assembly. When the band did their encore it wasn't the power of clap and cheer that brought them back on, it was probably written into their contract before they went home and had a cup of tea. Which I guess is what most of the audience did too. Bring back the hot and sweaty, noisy raucous gig.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Want My Yoga

Since moving jobs in London, I haven't been able to get to the yoga class I've been attending religiously (in a non-religious way, you understand) for over four years. I want my yoga class and I want it now, or at least before stress starts building up and I start chewing my toes. Again. Someone help me find a new yoga class soon in central London that's not in a gym which costs a flexible arm and a bendy leg to join.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Decisions, decisions...

While on holiday, I made two major decisions. These are, in no particular order, as follows:

1. Grow my hair long.
2. Start writing a novel.

Updates on both will be given on the blog if and when anything happens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The train to Spain

Back from a wonderful holiday to Spain. Went by train from Waterloo to Paris on Eurostar then on the trenhotel overnight from Paris to Madrid. Quite an experience but not one I think we'd want to do again due to lack of sleep (it was too exciting for sleep!) which lead to us feeling like zombies the next day. We did get train-chocolates on the pillow left at night by the lovely men who turned down our bunk beds - pictured - while we were having dinner and free drinks.

From Madrid's beautiful and stunning Atocha railway station, complete with its own rain forest, we took the AVE train and spent a few days in Seville before hiring a car and spending a week on the beach on the Costa de la Luz and no, I'm not telling you where we went because it's unspoilt without hardly any other Brits. Ooh, I'm such a holiday snob.

Anyway, here are the books I read while on my jollies this year:
Kate Atkinson - One Good Turn (fabulous).
Julie Burchill autobiography - I Knew I Was Right (ditto).
Patrick Hamilton - The Gorse Trilogy (three books in one, took almost a week to read, great stuff)
Tried to read Monica Ali's Alentjo Blue but got nowhere with it. Mind you, I'm probably the only person in the world who wasn't keen on her Brick Lane.

Friday, September 07, 2007

All About My Mother

To The Old Vic last night to see the stage version of Pedro Almodóvar’s film All About My Mother. A truly fantastic performance from the sparkling cast which included Diana Rigg, Lesley Manville, Joanne Froggatt and Mark Gattis (from The League of Gentleman), pictured here from the play as the transvestite whore. A truly wonderful night.

I might just have to watch the movie now to see if it's as good as this other Almodóvar film, which I adored.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Holiday Haircut

Bought new socks - tick. Got toothpaste - tick. Packed suitcase - tick.
So that just leaves one thing to do today and that's have a holiday haircut. I'm going to go in there and ask for a nice bob, hoping I'll come out looking something like this:

But I rather think it'll end up looking something like this:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Strange Fascination

I've never blogged about work before and I won't do it again after this post either. However, there’s some big ch-ch-changes going on in my working life and when I return from my jollies I’m starting a new job. This means leaving the Bloomsbury part of London I’ve worked in for over five years and there is plenty I’ll miss about the area, not least the following:

1. Walking through Russell Square park on my way to and from work.
2. My yoga class at ULU.
3. The huge Waterstone’s bookshop on Malet Street.
4. Grabbing a great big, decaff Fairtrade coffee on my way to work, from the University of London (ULU) student’s union.
5. Students, academics and university buildings.
6. Watching film crews set up as they use this beautiful area for features and TV. I once saw Batman filmed outside the University of London’s Senate House (pictured), a building made famous by George Orwell in 1984 as The Ministry of Truth.

And so it’s on to pastures new - and I have to admit that I’m very excited about the new job. It's the reason I've had to give up doing this although I can still do this. I'll let you draw your own Corrie conclusions.
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