Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Pollyanna and God preserve us from her.

It’s been a bit longer than I expected in-between posts but I’ve been a bit busy but mostly my HRT stopped functioning properly and I’ve been exhausted, low and generally my-get-up-and go-got-up-and-went. I know I’ve mentioned a few times before that going through the menopause with severe symptoms is a drag but seriously just when you think you have all the checks and balances right along comes nature and whips the rug from under your feet. God knows what caused my latest fugue and fatigue ridden few weeks but I could have well done without them. I did make a change of diet to include a lot more vegetables and surely that’s a good thing? I’ve been a slave to the Atkins diet for a few years now and I know that it is the least healthy diet that I can follow but I got set in a kind of negative mind-set that anything else would just pile on the weight. Anyway, explanations aside, it’s been fantastic rediscovering aubergines, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, mange tout, butternut squash, turnip, pak choi, savoy cabbage, spinach and just about every other veg I can drag off the shelves at Waitrose. It’s been an absolute joy delving through my cookery books and looking at low GI versions of recipe’s that include such an array of wonderful comestibles that have sent my old taste buds into overdrive.

So, I’m going to continue and persevere and wait and see if my mood swings abate and my temper returns to normal but at least for the first time today I feel lighter of spirit and much more amenable to enjoying life. My poor husband has gone through the wringer yet again and God knows how he doesn’t just stick a knife in my neck and be done with it. The trouble is that I don’t recognise the signs that I am going into a bit of a mood meltdown until I am in the thick of it. It’s only when I am rigidly tense, tight, agitated, unreasonable, angry, combatitive with a chest as tight as a drum and a feeling that I am going to have a heart attack do I realise that something has gone very wrong with my diet and medication. It’s a strange combination of being wired to the moon and agitated beyond belief yet at the same time being too exhausted to care enough about functioning at any level above the most basic of requirements. I truly hate this physical condition and long for my body to return to a physical status quo where I am of constant sunny disposition, enjoy a rollicking good laugh, can be relied upon to be in a stable mood and most of all, just cracking on with life like all other ‘normal’ people.

I once had a ‘life coach’ stop by my blog – she had the cheek to spout some obnoxious shite that “all myself and others going through the menopause needed was to embrace and celebrate being a woman, to have a positive attitude, to lie back and wonder at the beauty of being a woman and let nature take its course whilst the sisterhood of positive women sang life enducing songs and quoted storming mantras” or some sugary coated old shite like that. Clearly Madame Life Coach had her head stuck up her arse because no matter how fecking positive myself and my other menopausal friends try to feel, the fact that we have a raging hormonal imbalance of fecking hefty proportions, no amount of fluffy, warm and fuzzy feely type crud makes a blind bit of difference when you feel like ripping a life coach’s head off. If I could have played keepy-uppy with her bonce for an hour or two, I would have done – that might have engendered a bit of warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart and thus as she advocated, allow me to coast effortlessly through life with butterfly wings flapping at my head whilst small birds tweeted “whistle while you work” away in my ears. Oh if only her wisdom had been available to me before. I could have imagined and day dreamed my way through the menopause and sported a benign and love inducing smile for all that happened upon me. Fecking eejit.

Given that I am a student of Psychology, fairly knowledgeable and practiced in the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I found the life coach’s diatribe on my blog somewhat annoying beyond belief. The last thing I need is some wee numpty who had stumbled onto Neuro Linguistic Programming, (NLP), feeling it is her duty to offer unsolicited “advice” to someone who may just be more qualified in the subject than she possibly is. NLP is a great psychological tool when used by a qualified practitioner but left in the hands of those with limited psychological knowledge and training it is quite simply a loaded gun.

You can always tell a new advocate of NLP – they attain a glazed eye look, behave as though they are on speed and get religion about all things NLP and can’t wait to bore for Britain about their new found belief system. It’s usually these new recruits that believe they have the answer to all of society’s ails and after gaining a certificate from the ‘Walter Mitty and Pollyanna internet school of life coaching skills’ sets up a business to start saving the world. The danger is some of the worst of these ‘Practioners’ offer their misguided services to some truly ill people that need professional help way beyond the limited skills of the Life Coach. Those Life Coach’s that stick to the realms of their remit and help people organise their days, change a negative thought to a positive one and generally bolster a client along can be more like a good friend to someone who just needs a friend to point out the obvious. But like all industries – I won’t call it a profession as you do not need a degree to be a life coach – it is badly regulated and those who overstep the mark and delude themselves that they are ‘psychologists’ are operating in dangerous territory. These are the people that offer unsolicited advice, make assumptions without understanding the whole picture and offer their own brand of advice that relate not a jot to the person they found it necessary to ‘help’. They can do a lot of damage if the client they are dealing with is particularly vulnerable and perhaps not in a robust mental state at that time.

I have come across some really superb positive people in my life and they are the truly inspiring ones. Terrific people that no matter what happens in life they wallow in private and smile in public. After all, it’s not what life throws at you that matters, it’s how you deal with it that counts. No amount of flipping twaddle from some hare-brained half trained monkey who bought a correspondence course off the net can touch the coat tails of the people that truly inspire others because they were born to it and didn’t pick up a few skills and a bit of terminology on the net.

And finally and thankfully, I found a fantastic web site called Menopause Matters run by Doctor Heather Curry who is an absolute genius on the subject. Being a member of that community has been a lifeline when you realise that there are many other women suffering the same if not even worse symptoms than you are. And it is acknowledged that it is a physical depletion of hormones that causes so much grief – not as Pollyanna would have you believe that you are just missing a fecking wee visit to someone who sees the glass as half full and not half empty and has you quoting life affirming tosh 'till your teeth fall out. This marvellous site and the women that provide support on it are commendable and the site gives a virtual punch in the mouth to the daft wee naysayers that think pretending to be a tree or something equally enlightening is the only way to get through life. The menopause is one of the biggest physical changes that can happen to your body - a positive state of mind is a symptom of good physical fitness and medication that works. An holistic approach is certainly the way to go about addressing all areas but get the physical bit sorted then the rest just follows.

Rant over – job done!

P.S. this post started out as the awards that I am going to hand out to those that supported and voted for me in the best of blogs awards as they are long overdue – next post I promise – this rant clearly needed an airing!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

The escape - at last - well nearly but not quite yet

Want to read how it all started?

Simondo looked straight at his boss Barry; well he would have done except his glass eye tended to swivel in its socket because it wasn’t quite the right size. “So, Simondo”, he said, trying not to stare at the eye that was floating about like an apple bobbing in a bowl of water, “today’s your last day with us, excited about getting to NASA for that astronaut training then?” Simondo blushed slightly and then delivered a beaming smile at Barry before clearing his throat and saying, “sure thang bawssss”, in a faux mid Atlantic accent, followed by a double click of the tongue and a wink with his good eye.

Cheesy wasn’t the word for it but Simondo thought he sounded just like his heroes Starsky and Hutch. He’d often role play a scene or two from his favourite cop show, dropping to the ground shouting “cover me” to his flat mate Sy as he rolled over and imitated the double-hand-hold-and-point of a Smith and Wesson revolver before shouting “freeze mother fucker or today you die” at some imaginary felon. It didn’t always look as good as Simondo imagined due to the fact that he was missing an index finger and thumb on his right hand, and so it looked more like one good hand and a small three fingered garden fork taking on the world. Nonetheless, his good mate Sy was always up for a lark as they played cops and robbers with endless hours of ducking, diving and rolling and jumping out from behind settees and armchairs and rugby tackling each other to the ground before heading off to the pub to get bladdered together.

Barry cringed at Simondo’s American impression but listened as Simondo babbled on about his plans and how he was so thrilled to be part of the NASA ‘Affirmative Action’ programme; one that allowed people of superior intellect with disabilities to be jettisoned into space. “Never one to brag about himself”, thought Barry wryly, as he rolled his eyes at the sheer enormity of Simondo’s whopper of a tale and excuse for leaving his job as a senior computer operator. He had to stifle a snigger for he at least could roll his eyes. Last time he’d seen Simondo try it his glass eye pointed south east whilst the good eye did a perfect roll – a real site to behold and one that never failed to raise hysterical fits of laugher from the girls in the office - laughter that said 'we're laughing at you, not with you'.

Simondo congratulated himself at the cleverness of his deception and the tale he had spun for it not only made him look good but he was certain that it was so believable that no one would ever look for him in France. His all consuming obsession with all things American had acted as a natural background for him to spin his tale of a new life there when in all reality he was going on the run with his soul mate and paramour Hortense.

“Well, this is goodbye then”, Barry said, as he stood to shake Simondo’s hand before steering him from his office. As they reached the office door, Simondo stopped and held out what would have been the middle finger of his maimed hand and asked Barry to pull it. Looking somewhat perplexed but in an effort to humour him Barry acquiesced and pulled Simondo’s finger as instructed. In perfect synchronicity Simondo cocked his leg and let rip a humongous fart that left a scorch mark in the arse of his jeans. “Jesus fucking Christ, you filthy little bastard”, shouted Barry as he gagged and ran to throw a chair through his hermetically sealed office window. But it was too late, and Simondo could smell the fruits of his labour seeping through the air conditioning as he shouted, “see ya boss, don’t forget me now will ya?!”, and strolled laughing into the HR office to pick up his P45. He didn’t see Barry’s murderous look and one finger salute at his back as he walked away.

“Was that you Margie?; are you a bit loose again dear?” Blanche, the HR manager asked of her P.A. as she wafted away the repugnant smell from beneath her nose. “No it fucking wasn’t Blanche”, said Margie with a pinched look and an air of disgust in her voice that her boss could accuse her of dropping something so lethally bad that her face had turned green. “Better check out your own underwear dear, see if there isn’t a few skid marks in there that need scraping out before accusing me”, she spat back, as she indignantly adjusted her hounds-tooth jacket and pearl necklace.

“Well, Margie, really there’s no need for......”

“Hello”, said Simondo, interrupting the bickering of the two old relics that ran what he often called Human Remains. “I’m here for my P45”, he said barely containing his glee that the smell from his fart in Barry’s office had seeped through to Hinge and Bracket’s inner sanctum. He nodded in quiet approval as this was vintage Simondo and one of his better efforts of late, thanks to increasing the vegetarian content of his diet. He'd lost count of the amount of times he’d been admonished in here for his ‘lack of decorum’ as the two old duffers called it, never allowing the word fart to leave their lips lest they faint at such crudeness. "Christ, he must have excelled himself if old Margie was using the F word, could his last day here end any better?”, he asked himself. Taking the P45 that Margie held out to him between her forefinger and thumb as if she were handing it to a leper, he proffered his thanks through what might have been an engaging smile on anyone else but on him just looked like a leer. Leaving the inner sanctum, he stopped just inside the office door and let out a silent but violent arse burp before turning and smiling widely and waving at Blanche and Margie as they sat in shock, realising what he’d done. “Have that one on me ladies”, he said inbetween snorts of gut wrenching laughter as he tried but failed to walk upright to say goodbye to the girls in the office.

Tearing around the office in a frenzy, Margie and Blanche ripped drawers and cupboards apart looking for their stash of matches they kept solely for when Simondo dropped his guts in their office. “Sorry ladies, but I needed a light for my fags”, said the cheeky note left in place by Simondo, who had cleared them out of matches last week when he’d broken into their office on a night shift...........................

Finally getting himself under control, Simondo made his way to the admin office. Not trusting his swollen sphincter to deliver one more time without crapping his pants, he gingerly removed the box of stink bombs from his pocket. With six or so bombs in his good hand he held them in his other pocket where he’d cut a hole the night before. One by one he stopped at each desk to say goodbye to the girls whilst he dropped and rolled a stink bomb down his leg and crushed it before moving swiftly to the next desk. Within seconds it was all over and a baffled bunch of admin girls looked on astonished that Simondo hadn’t tried to grope their tits or belch in their faces before saying his last goodbye. “Any second now", he thought, then lobbed a "goodbye you bunch of bitchy old harridans”, at them as his parting shot before he legged it speedily from the office and down the corridor. He hid in the stairwell and moments later he could hear the screeching and barfing of the admin girls as they ran from their office gasping for any kind oxygen only to be confronted by the rest of the stink bombs he’d let off all the way down the corridor on his way out. His laughter echoed around the stairwell and he almost wet himself as he heard cries of, "where are you you stinking bastard, you're a dead man Simondo" and "when I get my hands on you, you'll never shit in my hemisphere again you litle turd, not with my size nines up your arse".......

Delighted at the trail of devastation he’d left behind him, Simondo hummed 'you've got me beggin' you for mercy' as he got into his Dagenham dustbin 1976 customised red 3 litre Ford Capri with the white go-faster stripes down the sides and headed off home. Dagenham Dave had done him proud getting him this little beauty. "No poxy old cut-and-shut Skoda for him", thought Simondo. “It was the good life for him and Hortense from now on”, he promised himself as he parked and walked into his apartment to wait until it was time to leave.

“Hi Sy”, he said as he entered the flat.

Sy’s mood was quite low but he didn’t want to let Simondo see how sad it was making him that his only mate was leaving Blighty for good. “Hi Mondo”, he said. “When you off then?

“Oh, 0300am”, he said, as he popped a cold beer and slumped down into the black leatherette couch. “Picking up Horty and that mad bat Camilla just as the warders change shifts; less chance of getting caught that way according to Horty”, he offered.

“What did you get as a leaving present then?”, asked Sy trying to make conversation to take his mind off his pal’s impending departure from his life.

“Oh not bad really, I got a pair of fluffy dice for the luuurrrve machine and Glen Campbell’s greatest hits. How about that?”, he beamed, for Glen was the holy grail of country and western music as far as he was concerned. Sy preferred Bruce Spunkstain himself, but nodded his head appreciatively, for it was he who had given Mondo's work colleagues the heads-up on that one. “Can’t wait to take Horty line dancing “, he said as Sy tried his damndest to see how that would work.

Spending the few hours they had left together, they sat in companionable silence as Mondo watched re-runs of Starsky and Hutch and the Dukes of Hazzard whilst Sy buried his head in his new blog. “Best try and make some new friends”, he thought as he spent the evening visiting blogs and leaving witty comments here and there.

At 0230am Simondo tucked his check shirt into his jeans and pulled on his new cowboy boots before swinging his travel bag over his shoulder. “See ya mate”, he said quickly to Sy suddenly feeling all weepy. “See ya mate”, said Sy back, and he too felt himself welling up. “Call me eh, when you get settled like?”, he asked forlornly, for he knew that he couldn’t ever see Simondo again; it was too risky in case he was followed.

With that Simondo turned his back and left. Sy heard the click as the door closed and returned to his blogging, tears rolling down his face........

Simondo, fired up the ignition and wiped away his tears with the back of his hand then put the car into gear and roared off with part heavy heart and part excited to start the next part of his life....."Love came in many guises, but being in love with Hortense was the deepest, best love of all", he thought, as he headed towards his paramour.....

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

A Big Humungous thanks to the best campaign manager in the world!

Debs, this award is for you. Your blog is superb, witty, heartwarming and like dropping in for a cup of tea with a great pal. Thanks for everything and it it wasn't for you I might have trailed a poor third instead of getting my vote up by another 10 percent. Awesome - as I said before you are a big loss to marketing and business as a whole but were a great find for me and Sy. Ta hen as we say in Glasgow!

*****And for those of you that commented, voted and supported me, there will be more awards when I can sit down and name you all*****

Monday, 2 June 2008

The escape - well almost

Want to read how it all started?

The tick, tick, tick of the clock was the only sound in the cell as Hortense lay awake in the small hours of the morning. Her peace was broken by MOB rolling over and snorting like a pig with its fat nose in a trough. “For God’s sake MOB, you bloody oinker”, she shouted in frustration as she threw a cushion at her. Mob jumped and groaned loudly as the cushion made contact with her head then she snorted rather loudly a few more times before rolling over and finally resting back into a quiet slumber leaving Hortense with the peace she craved to think. She was exhausted thinking, working out how she and Simondo could be together but she knew that with careful planning and calling in a few favours it might just happen.

“Pssst, are you awake fat arse?”. Hortense jumped at the interruption and looked over at Mob who was fast asleep, head to one side and dribbling so much that her pillow was soggy. She sat up in her bunk and strained to see who the hell was talking at this time of the morning. The owner of the voice moved closer towards her and repeated the question making Hortense jump out of the bed to wrestle the voice to the ground. “You couldn’t be too safe in a place like this”, she thought, “there was always someone after your fags, beers, after eight mints and god knows what”, she reminded herself as she pinned the voice down with the knee of her left leg firmly entrenched in the small of the back whilst twisting and locking both arms together.

“Oh dear lord, Hortense, do you have to overreact to everything and behave like you're in a wrestling smackdown final?”, said a rather posh but strained voice that Hortense recognised. “Camilla, is that you?” she asked surprised as she removed her knee from her back and released her hold. “Of course it is you peasant, who else do you know who speaks the Queen’s English unlike most of you oiks in here?”, she spat out haughtily, as she raised herself up from the floor and brushed herself down.

“Oh pardon me your effing ladyship”, said Hortense at the top of her voice whilst mimicking Camilla’s cut glass strangulated accent. So what do I owe the honour of having the Prada queen pay me a visit at such an hour?” Mob snorted and stirred in her sleep but merely rolled over to dribble on the dry side of her pillow.

“Look, keep your voice down Horty, you’ll wake Mob and the rest of B wing if you don’t drop it down a notch or two. So stick a sock in it, there’s a good girl”, she said condescendingly, as she rubbed her wrist where Hortense had held it in a vice like grip.

“Wake Mob, are you kidding me? She’s necked enough cider to fill a duck pond this evening. The only way you’d get through to her in that state is by holding a séance, so come on, spill the beans, what do you want you anally retentive upper class twit?

“If you stop with the insults, then I’ll enlighten you, you fat chav”, she said in return. Hortense considered getting Camilla in a head lock and using her head as a battering ram but she was intrigued as to why the prison posh totty had come to see her so she filed the insult for later. “What an obnoxious old tit”, thought Hortense, “no wonder Mob had had a bare knuckle fight with her the other day, with a bit of luck she’d knocked the old bag’s dentures down her throat”

“Look”, said Camilla interrupting Hortense’s fantasy of causing grievous bodily harm to her, “word is on the grapevine that you want to make a break for it, y’know dahling, really make a break and not come back and I can help you” she said with a sly look on her face.

Hortense stood mouth agape, “how the hell do you know that? Who grassed?, she demanded to know”, She racked her brain, no one except Mob and Simondo knew and for all she was an old gobshite, she knew Mob would never put her plans and future in jeopardy, she was too loyal and the closest thing to family that she’d ever had. No, it had to be someone else, “but who?” She moved to stand closer to Camilla, if she was going to get the truth out of the old trout, then better to use a bit of height and girth in a threatening sort of way.

“Erm, look, before you go off on one old girl, it’s no one in here”, said Camilla looking suddenly dwarfed and worried that Hortense might be planning to rip her head off her body and use it as an ice bucket. “Not even that old warthog lying snoring over there”, she gestured her head towards Mob. “She might kick start jumbo jets and roll her own tampons in her spare time but she’s loyal that one, I’ll give her that”. She leaned forward conspiratorially and whispered, “we have a mutual acquaintance, someone on the outside who can help”.

Hortense looked intently at Camilla. Her heart raced as she began to realise that just maybe this was a solution. Her cousin Debs was having difficulty getting the fake documents made as her supplier had been arrested for dogging and was in gaol awaiting a bail hearing. They needed to move fast because all their other plans were in place and time was running short if she and Simondo were to make it, to find a new life together.

Her heart flipped at the thought of Simondo and once again she felt the deep pain of separation that only new lovers feel; the kind of anguish where every second was a minute, every minute an hour and every hour a day until they could be together again. Hortense made herself a roll-up, lit it and took a deep drag on it before asking, “what’s in it for you Ms Marple?; why you, and why now?”

Camilla raised an eyebrow at the Ms Marple slight before responding, “look it’s no secret that I’m well connected and that my family has money, lots of it”. She balked at the mention of money for it was considered very vulgar indeed to talk about money if you hailed from the titled and landed gentry as she did. No matter that they all earned it in a nepotistic, old boy network and even ethically questionable kind of way, it was still improper to talk about how much of the green stuff you actually had stuffed away down the back of the inherited horse hair couch.

“And your point is?”, asked Hortense who was beginning to get frustrated at the seeming reluctance of Camilla to come clean.

“I know you’re having trouble getting your documents sorted because Weasel faced Willy got caught dogging again for the tenth time; Jesus Christ, you’d think the perverted little runt would have learnt not to get ‘little-Willy’ out in public any more. I sort of hoped.....”

“Camilla, where are you going with this, what’s any of this got to do with you?”, interrupted Hortense sharply, for she was losing patience and needed to get back to working out a new plan.

“Maltese Mick”, she offered and went quiet to let Hortense absorb the importance of the name; let her absorb the power behind the throne that was Maltese Mick.

“Isn’t that the guy that used to be on the bins here at the prison?”, she asked perplexed. “What the feck use is he to me?; what, is he going to secrete me out in a black bin bag along with the pig swill?” She scowled at Camilla, a complete look of misapprehension on her face and thought that she might just stick this silly old fart in a bin bag fairly soon herself. Only she’d be going out in several bags if she had her way.

“No, for God’s sake woman, keep up, that was Minging Monty, so called because....”

“Yes, yes I get the picture”, who the hell is Maltese Mick for Christ sake?

“Only the best and most expensive forger in the business; rumour has it he did the paperwork and the arrangements for Lord Lucan so he’s good alright”, she said, feeling quite triumphant. Secretly she feared and admired Hortense and if truth be told, had quite a girl crush on her from afar. That was really why she’d bloodied Mob’s nose and left teeth marks on her arse, she was jealous of their closeness and wanted to be Hortense’s best friend. She’d deliberately snatched that last canapé at the party because she saw Mob eyeing it up from across the cell and she was spoiling for a fight with her. “Hah, if only the girls at Bedales could have seen her now, they wouldn’t have dunked her head down the toilet bowl and pulled the flush if they’d known that one day she’d be able to take care of herself like a prize fighter. Prison had been good for her”, she thought, “toughened her up and no one, not even daddy would beat or bully her again”, she promised herself.

“I thought you said he was a mutual friend Camilla, I’ve never heard of him”.

“Well of course, you don’t know him as Maltese Mick. He’s only called that because his mum’s from Malta and his dad’s a ‘mick’ from county Clare in Ireland. Ring any bells?”

As recognition began to fall into place, the colour from Hortense’s face drained. She lifted her head to look at Camilla who had adopted a look of pity. “I know”, offered Camilla as her way of showing she understood the situation Hortense now found herself in.

Hortense suddenly burst out laughing, “not Jimmy the Giant?”, so called for he was 5’2 – even shorter than Simondo. Y’mean that wee pipsqueak finally did something useful with his life?, well bugger me”, she said, astonished.

Jimmy had been Hortense’s first boyfriend who had breath like fish paste and teeth that stuck out like a canopy. His acne was legendary and when one of his spots erupted and burst on Hortense as they snogged, it was the final straw for her. When she engineered it that 'he dumped her' she laughed all the way to the kebab van. For months she let him labour under the impression that she had lost the love of her life and that her life had been ruined - it didn’t do any harm to let the wee fella feel like it was all his idea and that he’d been the one in charge. “After all”, she reminded herself at the time, “he’d never get himself a babe like her again in his life so what was a bit of ego massaging costing her in the end?”.

“He’s never forgotten that he broke your heart Horty, wants to help and this is his way of making it up to you”.

“Well, well well”, she said as she shook her head and smiled. “One good deed deserves another”, she thought. “Who’d have thought wee Jimmy McKlusky would ride into town like the cavalry and save the day all these years later”.

“So, Camilla, now we’ve got that sorted out, I still don’t understand, I mean I’m grateful that you’ve told me all this but what exactly has any of this to do with you?”

“Oh that’s easy”, smiled Camilla. “ I’m coming with you...........”

*****I want to say thanks to Debs Lehner at The Lehners in France blog who got so totally involved in campaigning for this blog that she took my breath away. What a girl! What a great blogger too so visit her site folks - she is funny and entertaining and always a good read. Thanks Debs*****

*****A big thanks to everyone of you that voted, it was generous and kind and I am quite humbled by it all. There will be awards given out when I can work out how to do that!*****

*****And congratulations to wheel turning hamster dead for getting first place, it was a great laugh co-writing these Hortense and Simondo stories*****