Saturday 28 July 2012


Its been building up for weeks, and unavoidable really, I've got writer's block, and I can sometimes swerve the manic stage if I can find something else to distract me.  

Happily, the BBC, Channel 4 and every freeview channel going, have an overflowing abundance of Olympic Games related programmes and films. I'm now quite the expert.  Already have my eye on the Beast, Yohan Blake, While he was being shown round the stadium, he couldn't stop dancing and winking at the girls.  And to top it all, he hates training, lol.  Yeh, he'll be the one to put your money on!

I cried and cheered Haille Gebrselassie, as I watched his film Endurance.  I wasn't being all noble, just got fed up with Jeremy Kyle.  Has anyone noticed how close he puts his face to the faces of the antagonists, whilst shouting?  That is probably one of the most aggressive things one human beings could do to another, or indeed any gorilla to a fellow gorilla.  Its anthropological doncha know.  How does he not get hit?  Sorry, I digress.  But back to Haille, I had a tear in my eye seeing him lead the peacemakers.  Seeing people achieve against all odds, never fails to take my breath away. 

But, back to the ceremony.  Naff was the word that sprung to my mind with the Queen/James Bond stuff, what were they thinking? One of the few times in my life that I have ever felt for her.  I do think however, she should have forced a smile and a wave for the UK team, don't know what the other royals and VIPs were doing, but I hope they at least cheered our youngsters on. Having said that, I do see her predicament, too many links to the Commonwealth and other countries, one smile and wave, may well have meant 200 plus.  Bless her.

Michelle Obama was great - stood up and cheered the US youngsters on, and they cheered right back at her.  So much for decorum, what hoh old chap.     

Anyway, fantastic to see all the world athletes and was struck at the number of tiny countries I had never heard of. I quite liked the BBC commentators and I appreciated the tit bits of geographic and historic information - was actually quite proud that we had such a large team for so small a population - we are 66 million, I believe?  

I loved the colourful costumes too - Georgio Armani for the Italians and Ralf Lauren for the US - don't know who designed ours, but I am thinking Coco the Clown or a Pearly Queen?  Sorry, but I don't think the gold epaulettes will endear us to anyone.  

Handing the Olympic flame over to the next generation was moving - and felt so right.  Was going to make a catty remark about Macca, but haven't got the heart.  It was brave of him to give it a go, especially after the last time.  

Thursday 19 July 2012

MADELEINE MCCANN - a Rational Discourse

I see that a couple of people have picked up on my reference to the parents and friends having to prove their innocence.   I preceded that statement with the word 'unfortunately', for good reason.  It is clear to the whole world and its dog, that Kate and Gerry are desperate to find both Madeleine and Peace of Mind.  Apart from coping with the loss of their beloved daughter (and yes, I think she was much loved), they also have to cope with questions about that night for ever more.  

The publicity has been phenomenal, but its success was bound to attract armchair sleuths worldwide, as well as a few obsessive, crusader types who will never give up until they find their holy grail.  People climb Mount Everest, just because its there. I am sure along with the 'Stephen Birchs' there are independents out there financing their own search for a 'live' Maddie. 

We all want to know what happened to Madeleine.  We want an ending to the story, closure.  Preferably a happy ending.  I would love nothing more than for her to be found safe and well, but my rational side tells me that the chances are unlikely, and it should be ok to say that.  

Innocent until proven guilty may be written into the statutes, but human nature is too inquisitive for that, and often works the opposite way.  It bypasses sympathy too, if it didn't cops would not be able to do their job.  A woman could be found standing over the body of her husband with a smoking gun in her hand, and say 'it wasn't me, I'm the grieving widow', and the cop would say, 'oh, right you are then, I'll move on'.  

This is a unique case - the files and investigation have been made public and we geeks have access to it.  The parents have courted publicity which fuels the gossip further.  Unless they retire into obscurity, the questions will never go away.  It must be a nightmare situation.  


Tuesday 17 July 2012


I have always hesitated to write about this case, because it seems to incite such extremes of emotion.  Do I dare disturb the universe today - heck, yeh, why not?

Firstly, I am not a 'hater' nor am I a 'forker'.  I don't hate Kate and Gerry, nor do I hate Madeleine.  I would describe myself as an observer, perhaps, occasionally, a wannabe iconoclast.  

I began watching this curious case from the moment it first broke news.  It was one of those 'I remember where I was, and what I was doing' moments.  At first my reaction was the same as everyone else, shock, horror and heart wrenching sympathy for the parents.  

As time and revelations unfolded, I became hooked enough to make it my specialist subject, should Mastermind ever give me the call.  I have since discovered that there are many of us out there, so have decided not to beat myself up over it.  

Its been gripping all through, for sure, and so many twists and turns - fortunately there are those dedicated people out there keeping meticulous and easily accessible information - its that kind of case.

It is a Masterclass in spin doctory and sales techniques.  It has raised the bar on everything that has gone before.  From a media perspective, it should be used in textbooks.  Clarence should be having a proud father/son moment with Alistair Campbell.  But Gerry McCann should have a standing ovation too, the man is a genius, and obviously followed the wrong calling in life.  

Whether you like Kate and Gerry or not, they have achieved a marketing campaign, the like of which has never been seen before.  It does not surprise me that the Charity Missing People have appointed Kate as their ambassador.  The name Madeleine McCann still sells newspapers, and that is the bottom line.  We live under a tory government, everything is a business.  I take back the last remark, it happened under a labour government too.  They all seem to have blurred into one. 

I have read the book of Dr. Amaral, and the first thing that struck me, was his compassion towards the parents.  I understood his reasons for writing it.  Honour/reputation is one of the few things we can live and die by - we are but a short time on this earth. 

I won't judge him.  In all good detective stories, the hero is usually flawed.  Its what makes them human.  If this is ever made into a film, I am sure A-list actors will be fighting to play his part.  My money is on Antonio Banderas.   Just because I am feeling mischevious, I hereby open a suggestion box for the leading protagonist roles!   

Anyway, to explain my obsession with this case:  Among the many things I have learned along the way, is a little bit of Portuguese culture, a lot about the political skullduggery that goes on behind closed doors and my own personal favourites, body language and forensic linguistics.    

But back to the case in question.  Imo, the massive media presence muddied the investigation.  I was chilled to the bone, when I heard/saw details of Madeleine's distinctive eye, flashed all over the news. I was perturbed that Team McCann had their own news channel on Sky, though I too watched it obsessively for updates.   

This case has attracted more than its share of fruitloops.  The Stephen Birch 'buried in Casa Liliana' is headline grabbing, but too incredible for those of us, who have done our homework and believe in the dogs.

This is real life however, and in real life, detectives rarely, if ever, solve homicides and missing people cases within 60 minutes, or during an ad break.   I have made up my own mind, based on the evidence that exists, though I am always open to persuasion either way, but my gut feeling is, that the parents and their friends, should get themselves ruled out as suspects once and for all.  I think this would have been hugely beneficial to the morale and enthusiasm for their search.

This is indeed, an intriguing case, and one I shall watch closely for ever more, as I am sure will many.  I'm happy to say I am one of those people who can watch a mystery, and still say 'blimey, I didn't see that coming'.  

Monday 16 July 2012


Take 2, ok 3 fresh eggs, the best you can afford. Knowing the chickens have happy lives, improves the flavour.

Beat eggs, very lightly and add a touch of salt and pepper - nothing else.  

Cook mixture quickly in softly melted butter, it must be butter, this is comfort food. Gently stir and remove from heat, the moment the eggs begin to set.  Voila, the best scrambled eggs ever, unless anyone knows different? 

Serve with fresh, uncut, wholemeal bread, yet more butter and a cup of steaming hot PG!  

Sunday 15 July 2012


I watched Educating Rita again, for the umpteenth time, I think I could empathise with almost everything Rita went through, including the part where she becomes a pompous twit.  

Of course real life, is not so simple, nor so straightforward.  Particularly if you are a mum, and more so if you single.  I went into higher education, because I had reached a watershed.  I was almost 40, and my kids, though older by then, still needed me, and I still needed to work.  

By the time I reached the decision, both my body and mind had reached the point of breakdown.  I don't say that lightly.  There is no harder job, than being a working mother.  We are crippled with guilt at leaving our child with a virtual stranger, and when we are at work, our mind is on whether we mentioned that the sprog doesn't like cheese, ergo we therefore mess up both roles. Can women really have it all?

I digress, for my breakdown, I had therapy, I went to the gym and signed up to at least 20 classes (they were having a 7 day free trial), and I wandered into the library to see if any writing courses were starting up in September.  I phoned the college, had a chat to the lecturer, and signed up that day!  

As a school leave all those years ago, I never thought of higher education as an option.  I was young, pretty, and a bit wild!  To discover that it was there all the time was a bit of a revelation, like when the Wizard of Oz points out the magic of the ruby slippers.  That film gets me every time.  My dear old dad, though enlightened, never pushed me into further education, though I had a feeling he knew I would always get there.  I think he hoped I would be a nurse.  

Unfortunately, I have found that most of my generation, and class were destined for the caring industries and the factories.  In school at the time, a lot of emphasis was put on the ironing of mens' shirts and cooking for invalids.  To this day, I still make a spiffing cheese soufle and scrambled eggs* 

I feel many of the talents and skills of myself and fellow wizeneds is lost in time, as we are rarely considered a target demographic.  

If it wasn't for my arthritis I would organise a march on parliament, to persuade the government to LISTEN to the voice of experience and get a few wise old birds, who understand the problems of society first hand to pass on the benefit of their experience.    

I urge anyone hit by the recession, and are now enjoying the extra free time, lol, to look at the resources available locally, and take up that course you always wanted to do.  Be it how to grow your own cabbages or discuss the works of the Bronte sisters. 

This is the time to have a look at any courses that still  have vacancies, for September.  If you sign up now, you haven't got long to wait, and you can't back out!  

For me higher education showed me a side to life that I had never seen before.  It felt as though Part I had been in black and white, but now I was seeing it in colour. It was as though I was part of a break out group who dug a tunnel out of Stepford Village and there was no going back.  I want to shout out to other women, just like me, from my background, 'hey come on in, the waters fine'.  

Age should never be a barrier.  I once had the privilege of attending a college event, where a delightful 91 year old lady won Student of The Year!  


I am in one of those miserable moods, where absolutely nothing will cheer me up, not even Some Like it Hot.  I may even be growling, my brows are permanently furled.  Not able to concentrate on much more than a 'daily' as RSue so eloquently put it.

I was delighted therefore to see a picture of Victoria Beckham proudly holding her adorable baby as she came through customs.  Who wants to see that?, asks one dour critic, well, I do, for one!  As a sentimental old mum, nothing warms the cockles of my heart than to see a podgy little cherub.  It makes the scowls on my face turn upwards into a smile that is impossible to prevent. 

I like the Beckhams.  They are obviously devoted to each other and to their children.  I think it is a bit elitist to mock their achievements, that they reached the top in popular culture, and not accident of birth, is their good fortune. 

I doubt for one moment, little Harper is being damaged in any way through her exposure to the press.  For the moment, she is, where any baby wants to be, and that is with her mum.  Although, one point of criticism Victoria, I do worry about the height of those heels!

Who knows what is right or wrong, although I think we all raised our eyebrows at Michael Jackson's children in their masks!  But thats a whole other story.

I do see that our celebrity culture is dumbing down news, but with the technology we now have at our fingertips, I would hope there is a place for everything and everyone.  

Now, I wonder what is happening with Katie Price, the last image of her that I saw, made me choke on me cornflakes, she had gone a very peculiar shade of dark brown...........  

Monday 9 July 2012


I feared for the lovely Thelma Madine taking on the crazy task of employing 10 gypsy girl apprentices, to pass on her sewing and business skills.  

Thelma is the nice lady, who designs and produces those magnificently over the top wedding and communion dresses for the well heeled among the travelling community.  

I won't for the moment argue the rights and wrongs of non-conformist lifestyles, but as an old feminist, I always wondered if the girls really were happy to forgo their education, and dedicate their lives to hair extensions, babies and their husbands.  Suggesting a career path for women in the travelling community was always going to  be sensitive subject.  That Thelma has found a diplomatic way through the door is sheer genius.

Its also great television, and much depends on her judgement when she chooses the candidates, but she's a canny old bird and I trust her.  

Thelma is one of those women, from a certain class and generation, who have a fierce work ethic and a determination to succeed.  She has achieved her own dreams, picked herself up, and carried on.  As she took the camera around her sumptious home, she hugged her blingy dining chair and said 'I like what they like', and her empathy with her clients became clear.  She made no secret of her marital past, leaving in her cute daughter's reference to 'daddy watching football all day', kids eh? Daddy redeemed himself, but then dropped poor Thelma in it again, but I won't repeat what he said because my hearing is not what it was.   

I  do wish Thelma well.  She got her artistic inspiration from the fabulous Gone With The Wind, and there's nowt wrong with that!  I think she was the bright one among us, who spotted the business potential of those fabulous costumes worn by Scarlett O'hara.  I am sure her keen eye for design picked up on the stunning haute couture green curtain outfit, possibly while ogling Rhett Butler at the same time.  I don't think many of us appreciated the qualities of dear Ashley, until later in life.     

Thelma has taken many chances through her life, and I sense she is taking a big one now.  Good luck to her, she is using her own money to take a chance on giving employment to a minority group.  Lets hope it catches on.  

I will return to Thelma and her gypsy girls, its gripping stuff, at this stage, who knows what talent may emerge.  I kind of like the idea of gypsy fashion on the catwalk.

Thursday 5 July 2012


To all our American friends and I raise a glass to you this day!  

It is amazing to have access to so much information via the www.  I applaud your kids in their ambition and their innate belief in freedom and democracy.  In watching old WWII stuff, these past few days, I feel as though I have stumbled across a whole new minefield of information.  Your journalists and pioneers, push the boundaries, your brave sons and daughters give their lives to preserve those basic rights given to them in the Declaration of Independence.  Their cause is honourable, and it protects all of us.  I think it might well be, the most sensible document ever written, taking in unforeseen circumstances and all that kind of thing.  Its right up there with the Domesday Book.  It might be the reason why our US cousins have that same British attitude, 'we shall never surrender' only more so.    

In Mother England unfortunately, we are tangled in webs of libel law, that will take centuries to sort out, and by the time it does, everybody has lost interest. Thus, we are not always privy to items that are available to the rest of the world.  This would not be acceptable in the USA, and go them!  They know know all about technology, (between 5 and 10 years ahead of ourselves).  They won't accept mysteries, they have ambitious and tenacious youngsters who will see a project through.  With strong mums in the background.  

Too many countries are lethargic with the merry go round, of political talks that lead nowhere.  Each new day brings another new pen pusher with another ludicrous law.   We are fools to ourselves of course, the claimant culture has become an integral part of our economy.  I blame L.A. Law. 

Today, this 4th July, I applaud the American people for changing the course of history.  For getting the message out there, that there is an alternative to living under oppression. The sheer will of the 'Brave New World' gives inspiration to other worlds, to other cultures, and I believe has been a force for peace.

It is one of those 'I could have danced all night' moments, in trying to recall all that is good about the USA, and there is so much.....   You brought light to a world that might otherwise have remained in darkness.  

I have met way too few Americans, but those I have met and known personally have been absolutely charming and inspirational.  I know the US has social problems similar to our own, but today, Independence Day, I extend my hug to the whole lot of you, for retaining your right to free, unrestricted speech and information.  We know that all the while the USA is still broadcasting, there is hope for the world.  

Happy Independence Day!