Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

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.

Helen Chamberlain appreciation day

Being a football fan and living with / loving another football fan, our Saturdays now start at football o’clock even if we do support different teams. Like a lot of football fans, we’ve got a Saturday ritual thing going which includes a big grilled breakfast with lashings of tea while wearing lucky socks and pants. It’s then off to football we go to support either the away games in London for Sunderland AFC (me) or Middlesbrough FC (him). But before we head out of the door, there’s a part of the ritual that must be observed otherwise the day will surely end in tears. Yes, we turn the telly on and tune in to watch Soccer AM. The show on Sky has become one of my favourite TV programmes over the last few years, due in no small part to female presenter Helen Chamberlain who is a real joy to watch.

Not only does Helen know her football stuff but she stops the show from sliding into what could quite easily become a lads’ free for all. I can’t bear to watch the Soccerette slot and nip out of the room when she comes on. Wishing that part of the show away over the last couple of years hasn’t seemed to work so it looks like we’re stuck with the anachronistic, sexist bit of the show, which fortunately, Helen plays no part in. The only time Helen interacts with the Soccerette on screen is when they’re out in the car park doing the goal shots and Helen’s running around with the ball and her mic and the Soccerette just sort of stands around in tight shorts and looks lost. But then perhaps that’s the point.

Would you date a short man?

The Guardian once asked: What's wrong with tall women dating short men? As a tall woman who has dated short men in the past, let me give you the answer to that question.

I'm a 5' 10" leggy lady and here's my top reasons why I'll never date a short arse again.

When sitting or er, reclining, height doesn't matter. But a few inches makes all the difference as soon as you're both stood up because:
Other people assume that your man's your little brother.
I never felt I could truly be "me" and take pride in myself at my true height. This meant I often ended up stooping, which is never a good look on a tall lass.
I never again want to bow my head to kiss anyone.

Would you shop at the Playboy store?

There's a Playboy shop on London's Oxford Street. Hardly a mecca for discerning shoppers, Oxford Street's more dingy end contains the type of shop that displays most of their goods outside the shop on security hangers to 'entice' people inside. This is the low budget, rip off, dirty end of Oxford Street and it's here where I've just passed a Playboy Shop sign.

Who shops there? Will you, reading this? In fact, I'm feeling really angry that the brand has been allowed on to the high streets in the first place with the pencil cases and fluffy bunny stationery that seem to have been a soaraway success. Surely Playboy's legacy, if indeed it has one, is leering and lecherousness - not liberation - and that shouldn't be wrapped up and sold on the streets as a product to be admired and bought into. It's wrong.

High heels and low aspirations

There's a reason I’m not into shoe fashion that's got everything to do with my height and nothing to do with the fact I haven’t fallen in love with a pair of high heels oh, once or two hundred times. Standing at 5’ 10” in my stocking feet (well, ok, in my socks) I’ve shied away from buying high heels because I already tower over nearly everyone I know. When I was younger, I was tempted and succumbed to buying stilettos but when I went over a couple of times on my ankles, I made a decision not to join the strappy sandal and stiletto clad brigade and stepped out in my own direction. That’s not to say I don’t follow fashion down on my feet. I love wearing Doc Marten shoes and flat chunky things with flowers on, they suit my personality fine.

But back to that love-thang I mentioned earlier with high heels. I think it’s a case of what you can’t have, you drool after.

I'd never go so far as to say I fetishise high heel shoes, because that would be, you know, weird, but I do like looking at them. When I’m in a shoe shop I pick them up and touch them, the spikier and higher the heel the better. Strangely, I hate to see other women wear high heels, they just look wrong somehow and the woman’s posture is nearly always kaput. I don’t think I could be friends with a woman in stilettos, don’t ask me why though as I really couldn’t say.

All of this shoe talk took me to YouTube where I found the Stiletto Run from Berlin in August 2007. Yes, that’s right. Over 100 women running a race in stilettos. “It really hurts, like running on coals” says one of the runners. Well, what did she expect? She signed up for a race in which the rules stipulated that the heels had to be at least 7 cm high and a maximum of 1.5 cm wide. I’m just waiting for the Ladies Doc Marten sensible shoe stroll. Until then, I’ll give the Stiletto Run a miss, thank you very much.

Are Promo Girls High Street Porn?

I was in one of the big multimedia barns on London’s Oxford Street the other week, ooh, let's call it HMV for argument's sake. Browsing the CD racks, waiting for new tunes to catch my eye and shout ‘Buy Me’, I heard an almighty roar at the back of the shop. Turning to see where the noise was coming from, I saw a line of teenage boys, all hormonal and angsty, all of them moving, jitterish, but none of them speaking. It turns out the noise was coming from a new computer game being previewed in-store and the boys were waiting in line for their turn on the new game. Well, ok, I thought, so that’s what the noise is. But then I noticed the girls.

The girls – and they were girls, not women - weren’t waiting in line and none of them looked angsty. But that’s because they were promo girls, being paid to look chirpy and sweet and to give the boys some eye-candy while they were waiting in line to play with the machine.

The girls in skimpy clothes and full make-up; the boys itching to spend cash on new gadgets was a scene I thought couldn't exist in 2010. It looked as anachronistic as it sounds and to this feminist spectator it felt far worse.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, September 20 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 is gormless and fed up.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Joe Gilgun

I've long rated actor Joe Gilgun, ever since he turned up as little Jamie Armstrong in Coronation Street. Since then he's been Eli Dingle in Emmerdale and now re-appears in Shane Meadows' This is England 86, this time on TV following on from the fab film.  He's a wonderful actor and a joy to watch.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saucy secrets

Anyone know why sachets of sauce you get in caffs have got different numbers on them in one corner?  It's been bugging me for, ooh, about three days now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back off, Boots

It's not the first time it's happened but today was worse than ever. And while I couldn't turn around and tell him where to go, I'm blogging about it instead. 

Popped into Boots today on Tottenham Court Road in London and as soon as I walked in the store the security guard started to follow me.  I walked over to the aisle where all I wanted to do was price a posh face wash before going to SuperDrug to see if it was cheaper there (it usually is). He followed me, he stood and he watched me as I checked out the price.

"Look!" I wanted to say to him, but obviously didn't. "I'm not a shoplifter, mate! I've never stolen anything in my life before, ever! Stop following me!" But I just kept quiet and walked out. 

Anyway SuperDrug were cheaper, just by 4p, but at least there was no officious stalker by the door.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

World of Warcraft with added moo

While freely admitting I know nothing about World of Warcraft and being slightly afraid of cows, I highly recommend you check out this new blog called GeneCraft which combines the two. 


Because it's my nephew's blog, that's why.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, September 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 comes with a lickle baby.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What The Specials did Next

I feel sick inside and I've just died a little, somewhere in my heart. The Specials' version of A Message to You Rudy, is a classic. Not just one of my favourite tunes, but one of those tunes from one of those times that are special as The Specials themselves. And the reason I'm feeling a bit discombobulated is that I've just heard it on telly, on an advert for Next. Sad times, sad, and now that Suggs is advertising fish fingers, what's the world coming to?

Nice yourself up and listen to it as it should be, without the winter fashion. Click here. Go on, you know you want to.

Eggs is eggs

Saw this sign on a recent visit to the pretty seaside town of  Filey on the North Yorkshire coast. I love it when places multi-task, don't you?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

You and me, we're all paying for the Pope

I'm against my taxes going to pay for the Pope's visit to the UK. I've said it, I've blogged it, but I still have to bleedin' well pay for it. It's just wrong, very wrong. I feel so strongly against it that I want to turn up for the Papal parade, throw things and bash a banner about. Ooh, a quick Google shows there's a protest on the parade. It's here, I'm there!

My friend Annie also thinks it's wrong and blogs more about it here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Coronation Street Weekly Update, September 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 new Corrie baby.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


This here is a picture of one of the tomatoes I've been growing in our garden. It's a Siletz variety of tomato, grown from a packet of seeds I received as a Christmas present.  All I can say is that they do what they say on the packet.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Hat's that

This for all those blog readers on the edge of their seat this week, wanting to know how the knitted hat's coming on that I started here. You can now unclench your cheeks and breath a sigh of relief. The hat's done and my niece's head will soon be warm when the hat wends its way from my knitting needles to the North.

And now it's time to start knitting matching mittens...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

To the flicks this week to see Scott Pilgrim vs The World and what a cracking comic film it was. Apparantly Scott Pilgrim is a comic book hero but I'm not young enough or cool enough to have known that. All I do know is that it's a wonderfully funny, clever film, even if my chap and I were the oldest people in the cinema. 

Oh, and we turned down the cashier's offer at the box office (aka the ticket counter beside the pop corn) for a VIP seat at £1.60 extra. VIP seats at the pictures? When did that happen?

Beer goggles

It had to happen one day and today was that day. After recent niggles with my eyesight I went to see the optician. I turned up with my free eye-test voucher in hand that my employer hands out as I use a VDU at work, settled down in the chair and a nice lady looked deep, deep into my eyes.  She asked me to look at letters on the wall, words on a card, colours on a chart.  And then she told me that while it was my decision of course, the eye-test results meant that she had to recommend I start to wear reading glasses.  It's a milestone of sorts and not one that's welcome.  And while I would hope to be looking like this wearing my new specs:

I fear I'll end up looking like this:

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Agony Aunt

As well as my lovely man getting on the blog bandwagon, my smashing niece has now started her own blog.

It's called You Can't Start a Fire Without a Spark.
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