Dingbats and Dipsticks

 Today, the Housemate and I had lunch with He Who Brings The Coffee and Kate (more lamb was beheld and consumed). After eating, I played Dingbats with Kate and TH, and it really was a laugh-till-you-cry experience. Kate shares my competitive streak, so our turns were quite intense and thoughtful. Enter TH. She received the following Dingbat to solve:


The answer was the south of France. TH wasn’t sure what it might be, and, having come close with “North of France?”, she was starting to lose interest. I decided to give her a hint. “Look at the positioning of the words,” I said helpfully. “Where is the in relation to France?” TH stared at the card. “Below it,” she said eventually, looking really bored. Kate and I nodded enthusiastically. “And where is the arrow pointing?” I continued, sounding incredibly patronising. TH studied the image with a frown. “North,” she concluded. Kate and I did some more frantic nodding. “So,” I prompted excitedly, “where is the?”

There was a long pause.

“Below France,” said TH slowly, looking at me as if I was an incredibly stupid person who just refused to listen to her.

“But what is the arrow pointing at?” reiterated Kate. “NORTH!” repeated TH loudly.

I started waving my hands wildly. “Yes… so what is BELOW FRANCE?” I asked impatiently. TH stared at us in complete frustration and annoyance. “I dunno, Sicily?!”

Oh, how we laughed.

I should also show you this one:


Clearly, the answer was Long John Silver. It seemed obvious, and yet TH sounded bizarrely confident when she said “John…. big John…. agriculture – oh! Big John On The Farm!!”

Despair gave way to hysteria, and He Who Brings the Coffee walked into the living room to find the three of us in tears of laughter around the abandoned Dingbats board. He immediately turned on his heel and left, closing the door behind him. “Dipsticks,” he muttered under his breath, as he is wont to do on these occasions.

I didn’t care. It gave me a good title for this post. 

Inspired By You (#3)

Mother BonBon suggested: Daniel O’Donnell. Why?

This comment prompted an intensive training session for The Housemate, who, being from America, has led the blessed, carefree and happy existence of one who has never heard of Wee Daniel. Several anecdotes, two jokes, and one visit to YouTube later, she seemed to have a much clearer understanding of why it’s quite traumatic to grow up in Ireland. I do feel, however, that issues like Daniel O’Donnell really promote cross-community unity. It’s something that brings us all together, from all different backgrounds and denominations, to empathise with and share in each other’s despair.

It was the sight of him, dressed snugly in a jumper hand-knitted by one of his elderly fans, telling an interviewer that he could be “a bit wild” that really got me. After this, he probably invited several pensioners round for custard creams, and fell asleep in his rocking chair.

Q: What has 50 legs and no teeth?

A: The front row of a Daniel O’Donnell concert.

For those of you who have the fortune to be from a different country and have never experienced this Irish phenomenon, Daniel is a “singer” (to use the word in the loosest possible sense) adored by grannies up and down the country. He has a reputation for being very kind to his fans (the afore-mentioned grannies), and thinks nothing of inviting them into his home and “entertaining” them. He has dressed like a pensioner since he was a lad, and he “sings” (again, please do not take me literally when I say that) a variety of “songs” (I’ve never felt such a strong compulsion to quote, unquote myself) that make Coleraine Extra Strong Mature Cheddar seem like a mild form of cheese.

One of my favourite episodes of Father Ted pokes fun at Wee Daniel with a genius of a character called Eoin McLove*, who wears jumpers knitted by his elderly fans (all of whom use zimmerframes and mob him in a hilarious parody of Night of the Living Dead), sings songs about his Mammy, sits on a rocking chair, and rescues a little puppy with a broken paw, all to the admiring coos of the OAPs.

[*Absolutely no relation to any of my blog  characters.]

If you’ve got a strong stomach, have a go at this video of Daniel being “wild”. I laughed, I cried, I sat with my hand over my mouth. I tried to watch it the whole way through, but something deep within my spirit prevents me from doing so.

So, Mother BonBon, in answer to your question: I don’t know. I simply do not know.


Sitting waiting for a meeting to begin last night, McBouncy looked at me with the smuggest smirk you ever saw in your whole life.

“What?” I asked suspiciously.

“It’ll ruin your day,” she said with barely masked pleasure.

What?” I repeated, becoming nervous and fearful.

She leaned across and stroked my hair, then said in an uncharacteristically quiet whisper “There are three grey hairs right here”.

WHAT?!” I exploded in utter fury, slapping her hand away from my head as she succumbed to a fit of mirth. She dodged my slaps and proceeded to rummage through my hair. “There’s one… there’s one… there’s one… ohhhh, here’s another one!”

McLovely leaned over her, intrigued. “Ach,” he snorted, inspecting my head, “sure there’s loads of them.”

I got up and stormed out (as best one can storm anywhere, when lame and limping), hearing McBouncy proclaiming my greyness to everyone in the room as I headed for the mirror in the Ladies’. Twisting and turning and muttering under my breath, I tried and failed to view the back of my head.

I am old. Old. And now my hair is letting everyone know about it. It’s normally clarried in so much hair gel that there could be green and pink hairs in there and you’d never notice. I’ve gone product-free this week due to reasons both financial (hair products very expensive) and personal (hair too long to spike up properly, haircut not happening until Monday night), and have been sporting a flat but rather chic sixties style instead.

Last time I do that.

Inspired By You (#2)

Ed suggested: Grab a book, any book. Open at random. List the first five words or phrases that are suitable for opinionating on. Opinionate on them.

The closest book to hand was The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, quite simply the funniest, cleverest and yet silliest book ever written. I opened it – randomly! –  at chapter 23, which is a short chapter explaining the world from the point of view of dolphins. Obviously. From it, I’ve picked the following five topics: the wheel, New York, the impending destruction of the planet Earth, football, and mice. Let’s see what comes out, right? If it’s crap – blame Ed. It was his idea.

The wheel: I’m all in favour of the wheel. My car has 6, including steering and spare, and my hamster used to exercise in one before it died (it has exercised less frequently since then). Big Wheels at funfairs are always good, and – on that note – I do love the song that goes “big wheels keep on turning…”. Wheel of Fortune was always good when skiving off sick from school. Yes, I think I can honestly say I’m glad they invented the wheel. I can’t think of anything negative to say about it.

This is a good start: my opinions are occasionally positive!

New York: I heart NY, I really do. I went there last summer and I could honestly live there. I’m a city person, but until I went to New York, my opinion of cities was pretty much based on Glasgow. Going to NYC was, for a city person, what it must be like for a caffeine addict tasting a double tall capuccino for the first time after a lifetime of instant coffee. When I arrived, I did what most tourists do on stepping out on to a New York sidewalk for the first time – I looked up. NYC is tall. Very tall. And loud – the hustle and bustle of New Yorkers and tourists is heavily punctuated with the honking of dozens of horns at any given time, despite the incredibly stern-looking NO HONKING signs all over the place. A ride in a yellow cab is a must: it’s pricey compared with the Metro, but it’s worth the extra money for sheer entertainment value. Like a rollercoaster crossed with dodgems, only with honking, swearing, and a driver whose name contains 14 consonants and no vowels whatsoever. Plus, the cabs are air-conditioned – New York is warm and sticky in the summer, and the heat and smell of the subway cling to you like a cobweb does when you’ve accidentally walked into one.  Ohhh – and the bagels and coffee are out of this world – as is the Brooklyn Bridge at night. You can see the famous Manhattan skyline like in the opening credits of Friends – and, if you have friends like mine who are in the know about such things, you can go see the actual apartment building from  Friends!

The impending destruction of the planet Earth:  Whatever. I get irritated by Green People who tell me I’m killing the earth by spraying something to get rid of the smell of cat before the landlady visits. I know it would make a difference if everybody stopped spraying things and everybody recycled, but is everybody going to? No. So why should I suffer bad smells, walk 5 miles in the rain when I’ve got a car, and deprive my shopping of carrier bags, while the majority of people enjoy said luxuries and the planet continues to die anyway? There are more immediate problems (than the death of the planet, yes, I realise how ignorant this sounds now that I’m seeing it written down) to deal with, so why don’t you just carry on doing your bit for the environment, I’ll carry on doing mine (i.e. not polluting rivers, not burning down forests, not knowing what asbestos is etc.), and the earth will hopefully still be around by the time we croak it. If not, sure what odds? It’s not like it was ever going to be permanent. Sometimes you just have to accept the inevitable. Let it go.

Football: Sexy guys run around a big field wearing shorts and sweating a lot. They kick a ball. Sometimes they spit, which is not nice to watch. Less sexy guys sit in front of their televisions yelling at afore-mentioned footballers (who CANNOT HEAR YOU). They also sweat a lot, mainly because they’re overweight, unfit, and in a cosy house with the central heating cranked up, as opposed to on a field in the rain. Football is a kids’ game for the playground, or a fun pastime for adults in the park. It is not a subject for endless debate and tactical discussion, and does not deserve to tie up billions of pounds of our country’s economy. Harsh? Tell the homeless guy or the starving child how much Beckham (or latest footballing ‘genius’, whoever he may be) was sold for. Does it make sense? Pah. I repeat, pah.

Mice: Creepy wee critters, but harmless. McLovely amused me greatly last night by informing me, with genuine concern, about a new breed of supermouse that has invaded his house. He keeps some traps in a cupboard in the utility room, and one has vanished, leaving behind only a confusing smear of blood. The only possible explanation is that the mouse has entered the cupboard via a very small hole at the back, the trap has snapped shut on its tail, and it has bravely dragged itself along the shelf, pushed open the cupboard door, jumped out, shut the door behind it and gone off to warn its family about the Cupboard of Death – with the trap still attached to its tail!!! McLovely is indignant. “I mean, how on earth did it open the door, never mind drag the trap behind it?!” he kept demanding crossly. I just thought I’d take this opportunity to warn readers of this new breed of mouse. Maybe they have superpowers, I don’t know. Just be on your guard; take some kind of preventative measures. Get a cat. Avoid cheese. These are just a few helpful suggestions. Whatever you do, just be aware that they’re out there.

I don’t know if you noticed, but I was in a very good mood at the start of this post, left it for a few hours after the New York bit, got quite depressed in the meantime, started to write, and was fairly stable by the time I finished. Writing is so theraputic. It’s unfortunate for the “Earth” and “Football” categories, but sometimes you just have to rant.

Well, that was fun. I speak for myself, of course.

Disclocation, Dislocation, Dislocation

I seem to have dislocated my left little finger.

I made this alarming discovery when I was nervously twiddling my fingers (I’ve never fully grasped the concept of only twiddling the thumbs) at my desk earlier on, having uncovered an unfortunate work-related error and fallen into a slight panic about the best way to deal with the consequences. It’s not that I still crave cigarettes at these moments, more that I’ve never been quite sure about what to do instead, as a non-smoker. So I twiddle. And fidget. And jitter. And tap. I’m a good person to have around in a crisis, all things considered. Anyway, the error paled into insignificance next to the discovery of a bone sticking out of my hand.

“Is it sore?” Zed wanted to know, sounding a little impatient (for I had, admittedly, spent the day complaining about additional problems such as a sore foot, a queasy stomach, chapped lips, a sore throat and some cat scratches). “No,” I was forced to confess, “It’s not sore. But look! It’s sticking out. That can’t be good, can it?”

Zed inspected my hand.

“Hmm,” she said thoughtfully. “What does it do?”

It hadn’t occurred to me that my deformed hand could “do” anything worth mentioning. I gingerly touched the protruding fingerbone and was suitably impressed when my finger flew out at a weird angle. Zed drew back in disgust. “Right, you’re a freak.”

I don’t really care. I think it makes me kind of intriguing. A little bit concerned about waking up in the morning to discover that the bone has actually broken through the skin and is jutting out of the palm of my hand, all covered in blood and gore, but Zed seems fairly confident that this is an unlikely scenario. For now, I am just a freak, not an injured freak.

However, if my foot is still this sore by tomorrow, you’ll be hearing about it. Never a dull moment, eh?


Inspired By You (#1)

Grannymar suggested: Stick a pin in your Blogroll. Open the one your pin has landed on, now take the fourth sentence from it and away you go!

So, I found myself on the highly entertaining page of Ed. I counted to the fourth sentence, and it said – wait for it – “Of course, I’ve since left that job.” Oh, come on!

However, rather than avoid a close-to-the-heart issue and pick another blog, I’ve decided to go ahead and write about this. Regular readers will know that I’m currently looking for a new job, although it’s not as dire as it first appeared. I was under the impression I was being turfed out, with the words “end of September” echoing in my ears like the sound of the approaching killer’s footsteps in a horror movie. Don’t need to (and can’t!) go into any details, but the general gist of the current situation is that I’m looking for a better job, one that presents me with a challenge and hopefully a salary that allows me to loosen the belt a bit. Until then, I’m safe in the job I have – and grateful for it.

Haven’t a clue where I’ll end up, but it’s got me thinking about all the jobs I’ve had. The one I’m in now is my first full-time job, and was really only meant to be a stop-gap until I figured out what to do with my life. I started it almost four years ago. Oops!

My favourite job ever was my very first part-time job, when I was 16. I worked Saturdays and a couple of evenings at the local Petsmart store, near my parents house. I earned £3.17 an hour and thought I was rich. Those were fun times! I was so proud of my bright red t-shirt and little yellow name badge, and I loved my work. I helped out everywhere I could, cleaning animal cages, feeding fish, stacking can after can of dog food on the shelves, serving and chatting to customers. Sometimes Chris – the manager – let me take my favourite snake or lizard out of its cage and just wear it somewhere about my person as I cleaned the store and “faced up” at the end of the night,* which proved to be quite terrifying for the occasional last-minute-before-closing shopper, who encountered me amongst the cat toys with a snake draped around my neck. There was also a parrot called Flossie, who I just adored. I was mad about The X Files at the time, and managed to teach the bird to whistle the famous first 6 notes of the theme tune – everyone was very impressed at first. Understandably, their admiration wore off when she decided to whistle it at every single person who walked past. Repeatedly. Forever.

Unfortunately, the store wasn’t making enough money, and they closed us down after I’d been working there for around a year (I don’t think it was my fault, though). It was very sad, especially since I was half in love with one of the guys from the livestock section. (However, he ended up being my first proper boyfriend, following the big Farewell Party, so that was a nice souvenir.) After that, I worked briefly in a petrol station on the Doury Road, which was a living nightmare, with kids who came in at 11pm in their pyjamas and just ran along the aisles with their arms outstretched, knocking everything on to the floor. Plus, people kept asking me how to work the carwash, like I’d have a clue, and the manager was a mean little guy on a weird, unmerited power trip. I didn’t even hand my notice in – one morning I phoned and told them I hated working for them with a passion, and I just didn’t go back. It was that bad.

Other jobs have included Sainsbury’s (Glasgow and Ballymena, both equally dull) and the Bureau de Change cubicle in Glasgow Tourist Office (I used to actually fall asleep in there. And no one noticed.).

It’s not a great CV, is it?!

*”Facing up” – the rather odd name given to the task of going around the store at the end of the day, pulling all the products to the front of their shelves and making sure every label faced the front. Ten years ago, and I still remember that. That’s how dedicated I am. You’d employ me, you know you would.

Inspire Me

I was trying to decide whether ’tis better to blog about something just for the sake of blogging regularly, even when one has nothing of great interest about which to blog.

Then I skimmed through my archives for inspiration, and realised that’s what I’ve been doing most days anyway.

 Anyway, the thing is, I’ve been very busy preparing things for my youth group, women’s group and various other things, not to mention job-hunting and, oh yes, actually going to work. Plus, somewhere in the middle of all that, I’ve had to find time to be with my friends, talk on the phone and by email to far-off friends, and also do things like eat, sleep and breathe. Blogging is a very enjoyable pastime, but one that quickly becomes incredibly frustrating when, for example, you find yourself with a spare half hour of a morning, and can’t think of a single witty, thought-provoking or otherwise entertaining thing to blog about.

So, here’s the deal. You’re going to inspire me. Yes, you, right there. When I get home from  work today, I want the comments section of this post to be packed full of interesting suggestions for a blog topic. Is there a mystery you’ve been pondering, and you think I might have an opinion (e.g. the sock issue)? Is there a serious issue on your mind, one that I could attempt to analyse (and amusingly miss the point entirely)? Is there something you want to know about me, like my true feelings for Dirk? Or would you even care to pick a random word or phrase followed by the word ‘discuss’, in the style of school essays?

It’s up to you. The next blog post is all yours. I’m making myself very vulnerable with this request, because I risk coming home to an empty comments box and dealing with the crushing realisation that no one cares. I’m appealing to you, the public, for inspiration. Throw me a lifeline.

You know I’d do the same for you, if you lost your muse…

Scrabular Trauma

I’m a bit cross.

I’ve been told I’m a little too competitive when it comes to games. I really, really hate to lose. When Red and I were dating, I fell out with him for a whole day because he and my sister joined forces to conspire against me in a game of Monopoly. They refused to sell me anything, rendering me incapable of buying any houses, and yet cheerfully sold each other things like Mayfair and Bond Street for £1 each. I’m getting angry just thinking about it, actually. Anyway, they said it was to teach me the importance of playing just for the sake of playing (“having fun”, they called it), and not being obsessive about winning.

It didn’t work; it just gave me a persecution complex.

Monopoly’s always a dodgy game, though, because there’s an element of chance involved that just makes me nervous about the slight possibility that I might not win. Scrabble, however… I always win at Scrabble. Always. I cannot be beaten, simply because I am That Good. I’m not being vain, I’m being truthful.  It’s not really boasting, because, let’s face it, it’s a rather nerdish claim to make: some are pretty, some are witty, I am a Scrabble genius.

Anyway, Jay next door shares elements of my smuganicity* as far as board games are concerned. He seems to think he’s unbeatable at most of them, and even had the nerve to demonstrate this in a rather painful game of chess one evening. However, I dealt with it quite maturely, accepted my inferiority as far as chess was concerned, and contented myself with thrashing him at Scrabble and bankrupting him in Monopoly.

Now, in recent days I have been sucked into the world of Facebook. I was finding it a little dull, to be honest, until I discovered that one of the applications you can add to your page is called “Scrabulous”. It allows you to play Scrabble with your friends, at your own pace, taking your turn when next you’re online. Jay was obviously one of the first I challenged to a game. Confidently, I entered into it, smugly making my moves with words like “elevate” and ” themed” strategically placed on pink squares.

Halfway through, I started to feel a little uneasy about the fact that the score was strangely even. We were, in fact, neck-and-neck. This has never happened to me before in a game of Scrabble, and because of the long, drawn-out way in which the game was being played, it cost me quite a few nights’ sleep. By yesterday, when he’d overtaken me by something like 20 points, I was on the verge of a breakdown, my heart sinking every time I got the email telling me he’d played his move: It is now your turn. Palms sweating, brain aching, I stared dementedly at the computer screen, always managing to come up with a decent word and redeem my score, and always returning a few hours later to find he was ahead again.

My last few moves were nothing short of spectacular, all things considered. There were only 15 points between us, and I was certain that I could still win if he didn’t use up his letters before me. Then, tonight, I’m sitting watching a DVD with The Housemate when he arrives in, giggling like a little girl. “I wrote on your wall,” he announces dramatically. Assuming he’s using Facebook jargon as opposed to declaring a newfound interest in graffiti vandalism, I reach for my laptop and start logging in to my page. “Is… is the game over?” I ask nervously as the page loads. He shifts from foot to foot, still giggling. “Yes… I’m sorry.”

I’m numb with disbelief, sinking under the crushing weight of failure. Awash with grief, I scroll down the page and read the comment he’s written for me.

Congratulations on your valiant effort. Unfortunately, it was no match for the scrabble word generator, www.scrabblewordfinder.com. :) Don’t hate me.

I hate him. Blood, sweat, and tears – and it turns out I was playing an unbeatable, computerised Scrabble champion.

It’s all just one, big, giant conspiracy.

* Smuganicity: not, in fact, a real word, but one invented by Zed one day when no other word would fit. I like it.

I’m Sorrrrrrreeeeeeee…


I think she’s taken lessons from that Puss In Boots from Shrek.

Anyway, I have forgiven Kat because, tonight, she saved me from the Biggest Spider In The Whole Wide World, which was casually walking down the stairs as Dee and I sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and complaining about being fat while eating chocolate cupcakes left over from the youth group party.

“Argh!” exclaimed Dee mid-sentence, flinging back her chair in alarm.

“What?” I yelped in panic, scalding myself with coffee.

“Look at the size of that spider walking down the stairs!”

There was a loud thump before I could turn around.

“Never mind,” said Dee, relaxing again. “Kat’s on to it.”

We inspected the dead body. It really was huge. Where did it come from? What if it was in my bedroom? What if there are more of them? What if they crawl over me in the middle of the night and Kat is sleeping in The Housemate’s room, leaving me to die at the hands legs of poisonous giant spiders?

It’s a scary world, sometimes.


The Housemate has been here since Wednesday, and we’re having a blast. She is nursing me back to health – or rather, staying out of my way as I cough and sneeze and complain my way through the week. She’s a lovely girl, and I think we’re going to have fun living together.

Which is why I’m trying not to become bitter and resentful about the fact that she has stolen my cat.

I arrived home from work on Wednesday to find TH asleep in her bed, and Kat the Cat sitting in the doorway, looking confused and a little worried. “It’s OK, Kat,” I whispered conspiratorially, “she’s staying with us for a while. Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.” I patted her head reassuringly (the cat’s, not The Housemate’s) and she followed me downstairs, relieved to have me home with her. Jingle jingle jingle went her little bell, as she stayed close to her beloved owner. I was very proud of her later on that evening, when she went and sat by TH’s feet in a very welcoming way. What a mature, clever and hospitable cat she really is. Then when I went to bed, I saw her sitting once again at TH’s bedroom door in a most responsible manner, as if she was waiting to tuck her in and sing her a lullaby or something. Remarkable animal.

At last, all was quiet in the house, and Kat was satisfied that TH was sleeping peacefully. Jingle jingle jingle went the little bell, and I felt the familiar soft thump as my cat jumped on to my bed and curled up in the crook of my knees. “Good night, Kat,” I said sleepily. “Purrrrrrrr,” went Kat the Cat.

On Thursday morning, en route to the shower, a movement in TH’s room caught my eye. I glanced in and froze, rooted to the spot in horror and disbelief. Kat the Cat looked up sleepily from where she was lying curled up beside TH. The cold stab of betrayal pierced me like Romeo’s rusty dagger through his broken heart. If I were in a soap opera, I would have fallen to my knees in distress, clutching at my hair and screaming an endless “Noooooooooooooooooo…..”. But I’m not in a soap opera, so I turned in defeat and stood sadly in the shower, silently nursing my sorrow.

Last night, Kat didn’t even bother with the pretence of coming to my bed first. All I heard was a faint and distant jingle jingle jingle, much like the ‘clanging chimes of doom’ mentioned in the Band Aid song that’s been stuck in my head for two days. Every jingle was like mocking laughter in my ears.

Much as it pains me to say it, I think Dirk was right about cats all along. They only break your heart in the end. And me an invalid, too. Betrayal like no other.