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.
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