Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

Friday, December 31, 2010

Cinderella at Sadler's Wells

To Sadler's Wells last night for a special theatre treat to see the Matthew Bourne production of Cinderella, set in World War 2. It was fabulolus. I have seen all of Matthew Bourne's New Adventures productions now and it's hard to say which is my favourite - although I have seen the all-male Swan Lake three times and The Car Man, twice!   Anyway, back to Cinderella and the best part of a wonderful show, for me, was dancer Michela Meazza who plays Sybil the Stepmother. She was superb and the whole show is terrific.

Swine flu - it could be you

If you're sitting there watching the news about swine flu and feeling quite smug that you're a normal, healthy person who won't fall foul of the flu and even if you did, would shrug it off with a day or two in bed, think again.

Last summer when swine flu made its first rounds, I was a normal, healthy person who thought I'd never fall foul of the flu and even if I did, would shrug it off with a day or two in bed. 

And then I got the flu.

I had two and a half weeks off work, most of it spent in bed with a temperature and a fever. When I finally felt well enough to back to work after the course of Tamiflu, I was there for four days before I had to go off on sick leave again for a further two weeks.  Holidays to Spain that we'd looked forward to for months had to be cancelled. When I did return to work, I was useless, tired, spent. Fortunately, we have a very good Occupational Health office where I work and they put me on a phased return over five weeks, which helped a great deal.

The flu virus had triggered off in my systerm something particularly nasty that affected my energy, my muscles, and left me with what the doctor called post-viral fatigue.  I'd never heard of it before, but even now, more than a year after the swine flu, my energy level isn't the same as it was before last summer's flu. At one point in the post-viral fug, my legs wouldn't even work properly and it was all I could do to manage a short walk to the local shop before collapsing on the sofa for an hour to recharge my batteries. Anyway, in short, it was really nasty stuff.

I know everyone reacts differently to all kinds of disease but if you're sitting there watching the news about swine flu and feeling quite smug that you're a normal, healthy person who won't fall foul of the flu and even if you did, would shrug it off with a day or two in bed, think again.  And get your flu jab now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, December 13 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update's in a state of shock. Will Rita's hair ever be the same again?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas: It's all about me

I'm done, finished, spent.

My Christmas shopping is in the bag, done and dusted, ready to be wrapped. 

So why am I planning a whole day at the shops tomorrow? To buy some goodies for me, me, me. Because I'm worth it. And it's Christmas, and if I turn up at me mam's in me old jeans and jumper yet again, she'll have summat to say.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Happy Humming

When I'm feeling happy I hum. And at the moment, I'm humming a lot. I like humming, me. Problem is, I don't realise I'm doing it most of the time. So it either gets on people's nerves and/or they think I'm odd.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, December 6 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update comes with a bit of crash, bang, whallop.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Christmas tree

The Christmas tree's now up and the lights are on.  Can't wait for the next two weeks to fly past, then I'll have a full two weeks off work, spending most of that time up north with my family and my fella's family too.  It's what not just Christmas, but life, is all about.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Here it comes, ready or not

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas.

Even though we haven't yet put the tree  or the decorations up, I'm almost, just almost, starting to get that tingly feeling that suggests Christmas is on its way.

It's either that, or wind..

Love is...

Thank you.

Today was just what I needed.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Me & P & Q

No, not B&Q, It's P&Q I'm craving.  

Peace and Quiet.

Me Time.

Call it what you will.

I want to be alone.

You know, just for a bit.

Sponsored walk featured in The Sunderland Echo

Our sponsored walk last Sunday for Cancer Research UK has been featured in The Sunderland Echo.  I'm in that picture on the far right, hidden behind a lime green hat! Click on the image to enlarge it so you can read it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Feeding frenzy

Clearly we did something right last time the teenagers came to stay because they're coming back again, in two week's time.  And this time they're bringing a friend.

Yes, we've got my niece, her boyfriend and her mate, all teenagers, journeying to that London on the big train to go to see a band I've never heard of. And then they intend to splash their cash at one of the tackiest tourist spots in London that I'd avoid at all cost.

Right, that's me done. I'm off to stock up on bottles of blue alcopops and Pringles for their visit.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, November 29 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update wonders where Schmeichel  has gone.

Snowy sponsored walk

With thanks to everyone who reads this blog and donated money to Cancer Research via my Just Giving page for taking part in the sponsored walk on Sunday November 28th.  The original plan was to walk 6.5 miles along the coast from Sunderland to South Shields but due to heavy snow, this was changed. Instead, we walked 24 laps around the Royalty Theatre in Sunderland which made up the 6.5 miles. Community radio station Spark FM broadcast live from the walk and listeners rang in to sponsor us to do various laps in the style of: singing and dancing, holding hands and walking sideways, singing YMCA and one lap was done by two men dressed up as pantomime dames.

The lovely Paul in the Royalty Theatre kitchen kept spirits up with home made leek and potato soup at lunchtime in between laps and almost £5,000 was raised for Cancer Research UK. A further £1,200 was raised by my niece Claire Young for the Teenage Cancer Trust from funds raised at two charity variety nights by the youth theatre at the Royalty Theatre in Sunderland too.

A wonderful day for a wonderful cause, all arranged by my wonderful niece.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My niece Claire - an inspiration for us all

This is my niece Claire and her boyfriend Matty in a picture taken earlier this year
before Claire's cancer diagnosis.

If you haven't already sponsored me for the walk I'm doing this coming weekend, please do so here.  And if you still need convincing to part with a small amount of cash to help raise funds for Cancer Research UK, read this and dig deep. 

That article in The Sunderland Echo (Monday 22 November) also got its own comment column in the paper, below:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The second worst gig of my life

After weeks of anticipation, went to the Town and Country at Kentish Town last night. I know it's now called the HMV Forum and not Town and Country but I don't like all this rebranding rubbish and I'm in a bad mood.  Why? Because last night at Kentish Town I went to see a band I admire only to walk out at the end bitterly disappointed and giving the gig  a rating of Second Worst Gig of my Life.

The band was UB40, a reggae-pop band I've grown up with and loved, but have never seen live before. They were celebrating the 30 year anniversary of their first album Signing Off, relevant now more than ever with half of the public sector workforce looking set to be Signing On at some time over the next few years.

Lead singer Ali Campbell had been replaced by his brother Duncan and that was expected, so no disappointment there. He sang well, looked good. So why am I complaining? 

The gig was a lot less than full so the atmosphere was lacking and the sound was appalling. I could go on, so I will. It seemed as if a big chunk of the audience had been given free tickets with their Happy Meals and just wanted a chance to try out their camera phones at their first ever gig. When one young lad put his phone up to record, I knocked his hand down. He might have been recording it for people to enjoy it later on YouTube but it meant I couldn't see.

As for the sound, it just wasn't loud enough.  I couldn't feel the music in my heart, in my soul. What I could hear was other people's phone conversations as they rang their mates, I could hear other people talking to each other around me and none of it was ever, not once, drowned out by the music.  After the interval, we moved within a metre of the speakers just to get some sound and noise but it didnt help a bit.  And when the band struck up 'Red, Red Wine' and the bloke in front of me threw his wet, wet, beer in the air and it landed on my head, well, I was so fed up by then I really didn't care.  

As I write this blog post I'm listening to Trojan ska, just to get last night's bad taste out of my head.

And so, as a gig it was crap.  But it wasn't the worst gig of my life.  That's another blog post for another time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday trousers

You know when you're having one of those days when you just can't seem to rise above everything going wrong around you? Well, today's one of those days. It's Thursday and I'm having The Wrong Trousers kind of a day.

First, I get up this morning to have the life sucked out of my world by the beige-ness that is Richard Madeley on the radio - playing the beig-ness that is James Blunt. 

Then, I have to ring my bank who I've been with for years and have had great service from only to get Mrs Grumpy Call-Centre Woman. It's the first time ever I've had a bad experience with the bank and I took it rather personally to be honest.

But actually, what's really cheesed me off today is that I received an email from Google News saying they've dropped the Coronation Street Blog from their Google news feed for various reasons - all of them invalid.  I've replied, of course, giving examples of how we fill their criteria at every point. Whether it'll do any good, who knows?

But you know, so far it's been a crapola kind of day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Claire


Having my niece well again would not just make my day, it would make my life.
It would make the life of everyone in our family. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, November 8 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update's a bit upset as it's just waved goodbye to Jack Duckworth.

Rainy days and Mondays

It's been rainy, windy, sleety and cold. It's also been a Monday. All those things added together makes for a very grumpy me.

The weather was so bad that I didn't want to go  out of the building at lunchtime but needed to stock up on womanly products (chocolate, hair lacquer, the usual stuff). So with my scarf tightly wrapped and my umbrella up, out I plodded to the shops,

And do you know, even though it was rainy, windy, sleety and cold, it was invigorating too. And I came back to the office with a runny, ruddy red nose.

Winter sun

I'm off on my holidays in a few days' time.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Time and tired

If I only knew why I was tired all the time, I'd do something about it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

In these shoes?

I'm doing a 6.5 mile sponsored walk at the end of November, to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

Please sponsor me.

Go on, you know you want to.

Here's my online sponsor form.

Christmas crisis

I'm making a list, I'm checking it twice. I know which of my relations have been naughty or nice but by heavens, I'm in no mood for Christmas just yet.

Mind you, yesterday I bought my first Chrimbo present. And now I feel dirty for succumbing to the commercialism. Bah humbug, etc.

I love Christmas, I just hate the expense, the shopping, the chocolates you don't want, the CDs you won't play, the books you won't read, the socks you'll never wear, the bubble bath that will bring you out in a rash, the money that gets wasted each and every year.

But I love the family time, the food, the cold, snowy days with nothing to do but snuggle up by the fire, eat chocolates, crack nuts and watch old films on TV. I love the tree and all the tinsel bling. I love the two weeks off work. I just hate that it costs so much bleeding money and want to suggest a cap of a tenner on all our family gifts but they'll all call me Scrooge, I just know.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, October 25 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update comes with a mystery bouquet.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn in the park

Went for a long walk today as it's been a beautiful autumn day. Took time out to stretch legs and clear head, and take this photograph too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Super stupid superstitions

There are some superstitions I have no truck with. For instance, I will:

Put an umbrella up indoors.
Pass on the stairs.
Use the number 13 with ease.
Walk under a ladder.
Not worry if I break a mirror.
Not be bothered by how many magpies I see.

But oddly, I won't:

Put shoes on a table because you know, it's bad luck. And I always knock on wood, just in case. And crossing my fingers when I want something to happen (or not) very much, is just something I do, right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, October 18 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here

This week the update comes with Jack Duckworth's last hot pot.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vitamin See

I'm off work, again with another bad cold, again. I hate to harp on but I'm really fed up.

Since having flu and being ill for months afterwards with the post-viral nastiness it left me with in September last year, I've been looking after myself really well, scared witless in case if happened again.

In addition to eating loads of fresh veg and fruit, which I do anyway, I've been taking multi-vits and a heavy dose of Vit C every single day for over a year.

And for what?

I'm here, sitting on the sofa for the fourth day in a row, feeling guilty as hell because I'm not at work but worst of all, feeling snotty and crappy with fluey black eyes and a runny red nose.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Theatrical Type

My brother has started a blog. While I'm the writer in the family, our Chris has always been the more theatrical type. Ignore the spelling and grammatical mistakes, it's the thought that counts. He's my little brother but I don't half look up to him.

His blog is here and just in case there's any doubt and you're not sure what it's about, it's called Secret Diary of a Gay Dad.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coronation Street magazine

Corrie things are usually blogged over at the Coronation Street blog, but this one's personal so I'm putting it on here too. 

I highly recommend  ITV's Official 50th anniversary Coronation Street magazine. Particularly pages 42, 57, 65 and 88 which have been written by yours truly.  The mag's available for £2.50 in all good newsagents.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kirsty MacColl Concert

Sunday night at Shepherd's Bush Empire for the tribute Concert for Kirsty MacColl. It's been 10 years since she was killed, and still, no justice. The concert was held on Sunday 10th October, on what would have been Kirsty MacColl's 50th birthday, hence 

A wonderful night with performances of some of Kirsty's greatest hits from artists like Billy Bragg, Alison Moyet, Kim Wilde, Amy MacDonald and many more. Hosted by Phil Jupitus, the concert was recorded for radio but there'll be more than a little bit of editing to be done but I do hope they keep in Phil's comments about Simon Cowell. Sadly, somehow I don't think they will.

Anway, remind yourself, if you need reminding, of what the x-factor really is.

Coronation Street Weekly Update, October 11 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update's alright, John?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Desperate Housewife

This was me yesterday when I thought our house sale was still going through.

This is me today when we lost our second house buyer in 9 months.

This is me after writing this blog post, drowning my sorrows.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I know you don't know her but...

You, reading this, probably don't know my niece.  Chances are, you don't even know me.  But that doesn't matter, really. What matters is that you're reading this and you haven't given up yet.

Read on a bit further... and I'll tell you that my teenage niece is doing something rather special and I'm asking you to support her by sponsoring her to raise money for Cancer Research UK. 

Click here.

Go on, you know you want to.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, October 4 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update comes with Gypsy Creams.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Standard Class War

Earlier this year I blogged about posh people on the train getting away without paying their fares. They were too busy googling price comparison websites for passenger jets. Yes, really.

Since then, it's happened once more. And today it happened again. Travelling on the same train journey with the same train company, it's clear that Grand Central is getting a reputation as the posh person's bendy bus.  All they think they have to do is turn up, take a seat, and ignore the ticket collector when he comes round. 

Well not today. 

There were six of them and all were rumbled and thrown off at York.

And when I say 'rumbled' I do of course mean reported to the ticket collector.  Come on, Grand Central, get your act together.

Vintage and Retro Knitting Patterns for sale

If this groovy knitted spacesuit is your kinda outfit, you'll love the retro and vintage knitting patterns I've just put on ebay. Have a look at them all here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Leaving London

Ok London, I'm ready to move on.

We've had nine wonderful years together and it's been good while it lasted but I've been feeling unsettled for a long time, as you know.

I want more.

I want to see other people, family, friends.

It's not you, it's me.

Just let me go, please.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, September 27 2010

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week the update comes with limp wrists.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fairy Godmother

If I had a fairy godmother and I could make three wishes, all three wishes would be the very same.

I want the girl in the poncho to be well again.

Nothing else matters.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top 10 things I Love about London Underground

1. Piccadilly Line. It runs from the end of my street to central London in 20 minutes flat.
2. Docklands Light Railway. Who hasn’t sat at the front of the train pretending to be the driver?
3. Jubilee Line extension. Shiny stations. Lots of silver. Non-claustrophic platforms.
4. The tube map. Much like myself, it’s iconic, easy to understand and lovely to look at.
5. It’s quick and reliable. Well, usually, and more often than not.
6. The heavy, metallic clang at Wood Green station on a morning. That clang can only ever mean one thing – it’s an empty train pulling out of the sidings and into the station. What joy.
7. Baker Street station. It’s like being in a 1930s detective film set.
8. The guard at Russell Square station. He’s always smiled and said hello to me, almost every morning for the last 9 years. But I will never forgive the policeman who, on the day the Piccadilly line reopened after the July 7 2005 bombing, urged all of us nervous commuters to "give a big smile, big smiles everybody" for the waiting press cameras at the exit as we came out of the lift. The woman behind me was in tears. Needless to say, no-one smiled.
9. Angel. What’s not to like when a station’s got such a heavenly name?
10. The seat covers. They never seem as minging and fetid as they undoubtedly are.

Debbie Harry and me

The very first gig I went ever went to was on January 5th 1980 and I was 15 years old.

My friend from school and I were both huge Blondie fans and our parents allowed us to travel the 10 miles on the train to Newcastle City Hall all by ourselves - although my dad insisted on meeting us on the way home.

I'm going to share a bit more about Blondie, Debbie Harry in particular, the spell she holds over women like me and the reason she made me want to be a writer.

Something exciting and right hit the music scene, the pop charts, call it what you will, when I was 15. It was punk, ska, women musicians in bands without men. I probably first saw and heard Blondie on Top of the Pops, it must have been that show as it was the only one I'd heard of on TV at the time. I wasn't old enough or sassy enough to have heard of The Old Grey Whistle Test, or The Oxford Road Show but it didn't take me long to discover their appeal.

Loving Blondie's music and the way that Debbie and the band looked, it became a mission to find out as much about the band as I could. This meant looking further than the teen magazines of Jackie and My Guy I'd been reading until then. I had to venture into town and loiter by the hippies and the bikers in WH Smith to buy the latest Sounds, Melody Maker, NME and the occasional Smash Hits.

I even stumbled across the exotic (for a young Sunderland girl from a council estate) Rolling Stone magazine and I'd read everything and anything on the band to feed my Blondie habit.

I needed to know how their music was inspired, how they got their lyrics, where Debbie got her clothes. Reading the music press was an eye opener for me. Not only did I love what I was reading, I loved the way it read. I wanted to read more, I loved the irreverent comments the journos would make about a record they hated or loved.

But for now, it was reading, as often and as much as I possibly could about Blondie and the whole host of New Wave and Indie bands that shaped my musical tastes from age 15 onwards, and continue to do so today.

Because of Blondie, I discovered writer Lester Bangs. I devoured his every word and discovered photographer Mick Rock. American pop culture became my thing, I could have gone onto teenage Mastermind (had there been such a thing) and answered questions on it as my specialist subject. Boys at school were impressed with my knowledge of bands, lyrics, backstage gossip and the fact I could recommend articles for them to read. I loved reading the music press and books on the bands and it became frustratingly clear to me that I wanted nothing more than to write that way too.

I never have written about music. I don't even know that I could although it's not something I've tried (yet). But it did inspire me to get writing, something and anything, everything I could and still continue to do so. And for that, Debbie Harry, I thank you very much.

On having another woman fiddle with your boobs...

Sadie the bra lady is a north-east legend. Her adverts in the local cinemas up north called her The Original Kwik-Fit Fitter and it's true. I’d been fitted only once in my life for a bra and it was by Sadie herself about eight years ago. She took me out of my sagging 36B cups and it was in a 34C that I left the shop, smiling and with my chest pointing in the right direction. Last week I decided to get fitted again and went to another of her shops in the north-east. I’d lost a bit of weight since the last time I was fitted and this time I was fitted up and kitted out by one of Sadie’s legion of women in two sexy, silky bras in a 32D.

Apparently, an ill-fitting bra can cause neck and back ache, as well as causing your breasts to sag down to your knees. Sadie the bra lady once told me the only time she ever gets a tape measure out in one of her bra fitting shops is when she's measuring up to put new shelves on her wall. So, how has she managed to sell the perfect fit of bra to over 50,000 women? Ah, that's her secret and I'm not telling. You’ll have to find out more on Sadie’s very own website here. Debenhams also have a good bra fitting service that comes recommended. So do your boobs a favour and get fitted properly.
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