Everybody needs good neighbours

As I was walking into Waitrose this evening, I bumped into my neighbour, Lini. She told me that she would love to come out for a walk with me some time but unfortunately her sister, Sal, has been ill – she went on to say that she loves my blog – which is a real compliment seeing as she is a writer and generally pursues creative endeavours – and as I basked in her compliments, I completely over-looked the fact that she said her sister’s been sick, so I just wanted to say that I wish Sal better and my apologies for my self centred disregard x




Behind the Mirror

I was pleasantly surprised when I turned up for my 6.30, 90 minute session last night. I was greeted by the lovely Leah and ushered into an empty, warm, dark, room, complete with a two-way mirror, surround sound, stable desk surface and an amazingly comfy office chair – I must ask them what make it is, I need one! Leah brought me a bottle of water and a big bowl of crisps and closed the door behind her. I watched through the mirror and calmly took my notes, no panic and fear that had befallen me only 24 hours before. After the 90 minutes was up, I popped my things in my bag, got my dosh and was home by 9.00. I could get used to this.




Fight or Flight

Yesterday I branched out and went to work for one of my clients as a note-taker, live in the focus groups. As I don’t have a laptop, I professionalised my iPad and felt sure that it would be up to the job – I did turn down the offer of a laptop, such was my confidence.

I left the house at 5.00 p.m. to make sure I was there for 6.00. I arrived and they placed me in the corner of the room, where I sat patiently, waiting for the show to begin. I managed to hide myself behind a big flip-board and tried to be invisible. The first 90 minute group went fine, except the board was removed half-way through, exposing me to the camera, of which I was aware.

However, about half an hour into the second group, I pressed something and everything on the screen disappeared – I just wanted to run from that room and say, ‘I can’t do this!’ I fired off a frantic email to the lovely Carly, who was behind the one-way mirror, to say that I’d need the recording to capture the first half hour and that I was just going to soldier on.

Between the groups she paid me for my ‘hours’, which she had interpreted to mean £25 per hour of group, i.e. 3 hours, plus a tenner for travel, so basically I got paid £85 for 8 hours work, maybe 9. I left their offices at 10.00 and on arriving home I then spent ‘til 1.00 a.m. putting my notes in order, minus the first half an hour of group two.

This morning, Carly sent me the DVD so I could capture that which was lost and me and the kids had a good laugh at the video; me in the corner, still as a rabbit caught in the headlights, in group one looking quite composed and by the end of group two, looking like I’d just suffered a nervous breakdown! We laughed at the despair and longing on my face when the flip-board was moved part-way through group one, and in group two I knew when to stop re-typing the notes when I saw myself frantically touching the screen and then emailing Carly and getting back on with the job before I missed any more.

This morning I emailed Carly to say that I had under-priced myself and that I would need £75 per session – i.e. I’d have come out with £150 last night, instead of £85 – to which she has agreed, so tonight I will be going back to my corner for one session and I’m going to try to do a better job than yesterday.




Maureen, will you come back to Ally-Pally to take back that Pangea with me tomorrow?’, I implored doubtfully, as it was Sunday and I knew there was no way she’d want to drive (considering she does that journey every day for work). ‘I’ll pick you up.’

Sure,’ she replied, ‘I can’t wait to see Mark Chatfield’s face when you’re screaming at it! Lol.’

So off we went that sunny Sunday afternoon to Ally-Pally to return the offending infra-red hand warmer. We slunk up to the stall and I approached the apparent MD (a bit of a spiv) and presented my red shaking hands for him to see.

I think your machine is faulty because it’s burnt my hands and made them go numb, they’re ten times worse than they were! My friend had to drive me here today because I can’t drive and I can’t type and I type for a living!’, I told him, my voice quivering.

He looked surprised, mumbled an apology and said that this had ‘never happened before’. He asked me to wait to see Mark and we sat ourselves down, ready to do battle. After a few minutes Mark decided to give me his attention and I showed him my hands.

This has never happened before’, he said, ‘I wonder what we could do?’

I think you could give me my money back, as this is obviously not the product for me’, I said. Without a quibble or need of a threat, he refunded my money and we left the vicinity, almost disappointed that no scene was made that day.


Losing My Grip

I have been suffering really badly with my hands this winter – symptoms include what can only be described as ‘attacks’, where the skin on my fingers feels swollen, burnt and blistered (some worse than others), agony if knocked,  painful knuckles where blistered and numb fingertips when cold’. I absolutely hate going to see the GP –  just try and get an appointment anyway! – so I have been guessing what I could possibly be suffering from.

I currently have two theories:-

1) Allergy to bleach/detergent – I know this is fucking ridiculous but I occasionally clean the bath and kitchen sink with bleach with my bear hands. However, I have now ruled this out because once I’d recovered from the extensive bleach burns, I had another ‘attack’, leading me to think that it could be the washing up liquid, which I continue to use with no gloves.

2) Typing – this is the worst case scenario – I don’t know whether this is a coincidence but I stopped working just before Christmas and have only just started typing properly again in the last couple of weeks and my hands are in a bad way. The thing is, I don’t think it’s the typing because it doesn’t actually hurt me to type.


On Friday me, Son and Honey went to a House-builders show at Alexandra Palace. It was kind of like the Ideal Home Show but without any of the good bits. However, there was one stall selling hand-warming devices with massage and infra-red, which Honey suggested could be the answer to my prayers, as he led me into the hands of a second-hand car salesman.

I don’t know what it is with me but I am a sucker for salesmen, I hand myself to them on a plate – I am fascinated by the ‘sales process’ and almost go into a hypnotic state until the sale is closed and then shortly afterwards I’m ‘back in the room’!  So I sat down and I allowed myself to be sold to. We got juiced for £129. We asked if there was a show discount but he said there was not because, ‘These sell themselves, so we don’t need to’ – which is a bit beside the point really. With hindsight, I might have said, ‘Nah, we didn’t come for this, it’s a bit pricey, I think I’ll go home, research it and if I think it’s for me, I’ll buy it online’ but as Honey was paying and the vibrations did feel so good, I thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll have it!’ and we paid full price (at a show!).

The salesman suggested that I use it for 7-10 days, 20 minutes a day and then two or three times a week for ‘maintenance’. So I took it home and used it as advised and it literally burnt all my fingers like ten times worse than they were and then all my fingertips went numb (and over 24 hours later they still feel crap). I should mention that the box it came in was from China. Along with the Chinese writing on one side, the information on the box was written in pigeon English, with no suggestion that it was for any medical purpose, simply a beauty product! However, their stall had been set-up as though it was a bona fide medical device for people with problems with their hands, rather than something that will make your hands ‘shinny like jade’!

So tomorrow I will be going back to the show (with Maureen in tow for support) and tell them that I want my money back because their device is faulty (it must be unless it’s supposed to burn your skin and make your fingertips go numb) and go from there – I am anticipating a war and if there is one, I’m going to win it.




Caring McGee

When we go to the shops, Ms Pietersons becomes McGee – McGee is a seeing/hearing dog in training and she is ever so kind, she helps the aged and sick children and she has permission to go wherever she likes.

 A couple of weeks ago Maureen suggested that we take her into Waitrose and so we popped her in the trolley, trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to cover her with my coat.

The first manager we encountered, laughed and turned a blind eye, as did the rest of the staff and managers in the store that day.

However, there was one small blip when she barked and snapped at a child and Ms Pieterson’s disguise was blown.

‘Oh dear, McGee.



Tomato Face

My friend Portly Pam has slowly piled on the pounds. A few years ago she went to Slimmers World and got down to below her ideal weight but today she is back to square one.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re talking less than a stone overweight but she will be wearing a bikini in the Caribbean in less than ten weeks’ time.

 On Saturday night we popped into the Water Margin for a Chinese – we had soup and some picky bits, leaving room for an ice-cream (Baskin Robbins conveniently situated right next door).

 Pam, face red from the heat of the restaurant, combined with the cold air, the dull yellow lighting and very unkind mirror lining the walls, looked shocked and close to tears:-

 ‘Mint choc chip, Pam?’, I ventured

 ‘I look like a big tomato face!’, she wailed.

 ‘It’s the mirror’, I said kindly (steadfastly refusing to look at my own reflection).

Horrified by what she had seen, she declined the ice-cream and has declared war on her figure.

Go Portly Pam, Tomato Face No More!



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