Friday 28 December 2012


What do most of us Resolve to do, be, next year, as the clock strikes midnight.  I'm now in my 56th year and wondering whether to ignore it, and watch re-runs of The Big Bang and sing Oh Danny Boy down the phone if anyone dares to ring me, probably hiccuping from pink wine and eating dates, because a) they must constitute at least 2 of your 5 a day, and experience has taught me, that their visit will be fleeting.  Besides,  it is probably the only night of the year you can get away with throwing caution to the wind and drinking and eating what  you like, and getting away with it, on the the whole 'its only one day a year' card.  All the rest do not count, though worth giving a go, on the odd occasion.     

Anyway, I digress, the most popular New Year's resolution is lose weight.  Who'd have thought.  Personally, I have never made it as far as February with my free membership of WW (Weightwatchers) with that one.   There is only so much sugar free jelly you can enjoy.  There are just too many things that are look absolutely scrumptious when I drool over them behind glass cabinets in most supermarkets.  (Obviously designers have been all too aware that an open cake display could prove too tempting for too many otherwise law abiding citizens.  

As we get older, many of our usual sources of divine pleasure start to drop off on - on many levels.  Mostly through our ill health and need for further and further medication that doesn't agree.  Our decaying teeth deny us the pleasure of toffee allsorts - oooh, the sheer joy of biting into unknown, unaware whether it will be mint or vanilla, and looking forward to the next lucky dip.  Ditto, Werthers Originals, is anyone really patient enough to resist the urge to bite it while it is still like a bullett? Anway, they are but a memory, although I might give making fudge a go, yes, I know, I will have to brush immediately after, but worth it I think.  I always thought dentists were lying to us regarding the whole sugar thingy, but turns out it is true.  

It is possible to lose weight, with a bit of resilience, and without giving up the weekly bear claw.  I have discovered the walk to the nearest Greggs to buy one, cancels out the actual eating of it.  Plus the actual walking is increasing the vigour, and soothing the mind. 

But I was just musing.  Misery induces lethargy, I guess many physical ailments are exacerbated by state of mind.  I won't join WW again, I'll just carry on doing what I am doing, which seems to be working, I'm told.  It includes one day, at least, devoted to cereal.  Fortunately, I love porridge made with water, and sprinkled with fake sugar, ok, also with a dollop of cream, but in fairness, the entire day is devoted to cereal.  Apparently diet, and exercise does do the trick, and it wasn't a trick played on us by Hanoi Jane who may or may not have been a double agent in the sixties.  

Anyway, I am quite enjoying becoming healthy, so will settle for carrying on full steam ahead with what I am already doing.  Its no healthy cabbage diet, to be honest, but I never got round to making it.  I was working in an office at the height of its 'latest diet' popularity, but I knew enough about bodily functions and the effects of vegetables, to know it would be very risky on the flatulence front.  The Fibre diet was a bestseller and I had already encountered those who had read the book - usually in lifts.  

Well Happy New Year to all my readers, and hope some of the above may be of use to those of us aiming for health and fitness next year!  

Ps.  None of the above to be taken seriously. 

Pps.  Ainsley's Spring veg, cup a soup is divine, and pink and whites (though tasting like cardboard) are virtually calorie free if eating is the only way you can survive til 5.30, without attacking your boss with a rusty rake.  Oh, I do miss the old tips, around the office water cooler......... 

Sunday 23 December 2012

THE POPE SAYS...........................

The Pope has spoken out on historic child abuse, maybe something was lost in translation, but other than suggesting a bit more praying, he offered no apologies, nor compensation for lives ruined.  Apparently, child pornography etc, was big in the 70's and he reminded us there are of course greater and lesser degrees of evil - I think the implication being that abusing children falls somewhere between missing mass and eating meat on a Friday.

Having lived in a Convent run children's home in the early 1970's, I would strongly suggest that His Holiness delve a little deeper into the meaning of evil, especially, where it concerns small children.  Paying particular attention to the whole 'Suffer little children' thingy, unless the clergy interpret that particular phrase as as it being their duty to bring about the actual suffering. 

But, I won't mince words.  I would like the Judge in my own particular case to contemplate the idea of living a children's home run by a practising (and very skilled) paedophile and sadist and then ask himself on what planet that could be considered as a nurturing environment?  I would ask others too, those who might perhaps doubt my story, to ponder on the implications for children reared in such an environment?  

That Peter Rands was a paedophile cannot be disputed, the evidence was there within his withheld personnel file.  'Found in bed with a 15 year old' in 1972.  Some would find that pretty convincing evidence for preventing such a person from working with children.  Not so, the Catholic Church, Rands continued to work with children until the late 1980's.   

True, he had his own particular forms of self punishment, and no doubt once he informed his employers that he had given himself a darn good thrashing, they took him back into the fold.  

I would urge anyone who was at St. Anne's Convent, Orpington, who suffered abuse either directly, or indirectly, to come forward and speak your truth.  Peter Rands was not the only 'Uncle' abusing at that time, there were others and some have since been imprisoned.  

In numbers the case cannot fail.  The Church will fight individual claims, but class actions allow anonymity and in most cases, no necessity for years of litigation or trials.  In Ireland, claimants merely have to prove that they were at an Institution where abuse took place (with the Sisters of Mercy it is a given) and their cases are settled.

Prayers and apologies are not enough.  In too many cases practical and financial help is needed.  Lets ensure it gets to those who deserve it.

Friday 21 December 2012

FECK IT, I'll say what I want

Like Princess Diana, I would have liked to have chosen 'I Vow to Thee My Country' as one of my funeral hymns, purely because it goes beyond a pride in one's past and heritage, but to the very core of one's ethnic origin.  Its quite stirring.  Unfortunately, I come from mixed breed, a combination of a Scottish Father and Irish Mother.  Just to complicate things further, I was born in Brixton, No. 17 Ferndale Road.   Something that I kept secret, until I discovered that my then hero David Bowie was born in Brixton, and it became ok to say it out loud.

It was 1957, a time in which 'No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish' hung out as signposts on boarding houses in the upmarket parts of London Town.  My dad's Scottish accent was indistinguishable from Irish, to most landlords and landladies, so we boarded with the less desirables, the Blacks, the Jews, the Polish, were our next door neighbours.   We all belonged to the same 'underclass' - yet we maintained our own cultures and lived happily side by side.  I believe it was our dear Polish neighbour, who delivered my goodself, when my mother went into premature labour.   Whoever you were kind Sir, my mother and father were forever grateful to you. 

It was during a discussion the other day with my son, that we ventured into the area of ethnicity.  My son is studying psychology, and it has always been of interest to me.  I have always had an inner turmoil, about who I am (those who know me, will understand the neurosis).  My father was Scottish, my Mother Irish.   Any celts reading this would see 'trouble ahead' as the song goes.   The Scottish and the Irish argue like fiends, yet usually end up, laughing, attempting a jig and rounding off the night with 'Oh Danny Boy'.

From a scientific perspective, I am a huge fan of The Big Bang [funny and informative] I would say it traces back to that time before the Ice Age when Scotland and Ireland were physically attached.  My dad (who spoke like Charlie Endle - hint, Budgie, lol) was best friends with a Northern Irish man - who proudly wore his Orange ribbon and bowler hat!  Two opposite ends of the political spectrum, who'd have thought.

I am left in an eternal quandry, am I Irish, Scottish or English?  I Vow to Thee My Country, would be farcical, at my funeral, because I could never be sure which country I would be vowing to?  In truth, I play to them all.  When I am loud and witty, I put it down to the paddy in me, when I am philosophical, I put it down to the Scots, and when I chill out, I put it down to the English.  There is something good, and right, about the British people, something that says, almost Bertie Wooster like: ' hang on old chap, we can't allow that'. We are presently undergoing atrocities that we would throw our arms up in horror, if it were happening in Third World Countries.  Yet here we are accepting, without so much as a whimper, the megalomaniac hype of an ex Bullingdon Boy, who tells us Food Banks are part of the Tory ideal of the Big Society.  

I think I was watching the 1940's black and white film of Oliver Twist at the time his statement came out.  Then I switched over and watched some twat from Made In Chelsea on 'Come Dine with Me' calling his maid and servants to heel as if they were mere chattels.  

I have been asked to give a newspaper quote on my hopes and ambitions for next year.  I have been reticent in replying, because I feel gagged right now due to my opinions on the McCanns, but I actually, now just feel, feck it, I will say what I think on all subjects, before the internet police shut us all down.

Was my book political?  You bet your arse it was.  My book is beyond a misery memoir, for those who care to delve further.  

As for the McCanns, I will continue to watch the saga unfold, albeit, in breathtaking slow motion.  This government I will hammer relentlessly, simply because I remember those old boarding house days, and that haunting statement.................    first they came for the Jews.........................

Saturday 8 December 2012

CONSTANCE - A Titanic Story

In 1999, when I embarked on my new life as a mature student, we were given a creative writing assignment. It was a challenge I relished, and I had learned one of the first rules of 'how to become a writer' - that is, write about something you know. 

I had always had an interest in the story of the Titanic, probably stemming back to that old black and white movie starring Kenneth More.  My obsession led me to abandon the 3 men in my life for the day, and take myself off to gawp in fascination at the ghoulish exhibits at the Titanic Exhibition that was held in Greenwich.  My little day of rebellion, planted the seeds of the story that was to become my monologue, Constance.  

Among my hundreds of rejection letters, was a wonderful reply from Sinclair Mathieson, the editor of People's Friend, who took the time to tell me how much he enjoyed my story, but it was 'too political' for their genre.  However, his kind words, 'its a story that deserves a wide audience', gave me the confidence to pursue it.  An Edwardian drama, it is more downstairs, than upstairs.

In 2000, it was picked up immediately by Paul Kent, Head of Programmes at Oneword Radio, a former BBC editor, who 'discovered' the wonderful writer, Bill Bryson.  Paul, turned it into a wonderful play for the radio, and it was performed, by Charlie Fane, and broadcast on Christmas Day, as an alternative to the Cameron, Titanic film.  It was nominated for a Sony Award and helped Oneward in achieving a Sony Award as Radio Station of the Year in 2001.   Paul, immediately commissioned 4 more.  

I have decided to publish it now, as a tribute to my beloved Dad, who never stopped believing in me and my madcap dreams.  The CD of Constance, was on his bedside table, when he passed away - Saturday Night Fever was inside the CD player, I don't know why, but that made me smile.  The audio version of Constance will be available within a few days.  The Kindle is available now.  The story is long enough to absorb you, but short enough to prevent mould growing on your washing up.

If you are a fan of Upstairs Downstairs, and Downtown  Abbey, you will love (or hate) this story.

Monday 3 December 2012

HI OLD AOL BOARDIES and chilling

I spent almost 5 years enticed by a message board.  Yes, its back to haunt and provoke old AOL Europe and Ya Gotta Laugh boards, but for most it will be remember with a fair amounts of giggles too.

My younger son is studying psychology, and could talk the hind legs off a donkey, so I am getting some substance to many of my own theories and conclusions.  Ah, feck it, those weren't 5 wasted years, I met some bleddy good friends, including one who wants to should out 'watcha bellend' at a book signing, lol.  I'll make sure to be in diva mode and demand endless supplies of maltesers so the games can begin! Ditto vino, as most are no strangers to the bottle, ha ha.  

But back to the pluses of those 'wasted' years - I learned more about life, and the characters in it, than any book could teach me.  Including the aforesaid grammatically incorrect sentence.  

Bizarrely, those 5 years will never be forgotten.  From Day 1, I posted as myself, albeit under the pen name of Cristobell 'Bell' to many of you, Bellend to others, lol.  

I can look back and laugh, but it honestly felt as though we were living in a real life soap (but with more believable characters).  

And what characters there were!  The formidable Annies, Jo, Cherub and Bev.  I couldn't dislike any of them even if I wanted to, they are all part of the women who put the backbone into society.  They are the real movers and shakers, the ones who actually do practical things to help others.  A special mention for Bree, little leprachaun that she is, lol, and Helen who shares that same mischevious sense of humour and Inta for keeping a home for us.

And the lovely, Graceland Ann of course.  A legend.  Always happy to catch up with you.  

But enough joviality, that cyber circle also contained elements of Dr. Evil, the dark side of human nature, that manifests itself it within the heart of our society.  An evil that I would prefer to ignore, because I would have to add it to my already full list of news items that I have to turn away from, because I know sure as eggs is eggs they will bring on an 'episode'.  

Know your enemy is a phrase oft used by Generals (I think) -  I am a huge of fan of The 300, and I imagine it is something the divine Gerard Butler would say.  But I digress, I could see why I pissed some people off.  Apparently I am a Libertarian (I did a quiz) and some people don't like that.  I can never figure it out, because I'm not in the least bit bothered what path they have chosen to take.  My philosophy has always been, that of 'whatever gets you through the night'. For some people that is religion and good diet and exercise - probably, who am I to judge? 

I would love to pull Neitzche up on a few things.  Enlightenment doesn't bring joy, and contentment for evermore, it takes away a big chunk of 'the only shoulder some of us have to rely on'.  Saying God Bless all those we love, was an integral part of bedroom routine.  Not just for the Kids.  I am presently having an inner battle, as to whether it is ok, to be Catholic, on the odd occasion.  It certainly helps with the dusting of ornaments and cleaning of floors.  No Cobwebs for me these days, and have to switch off my inner Buddhist, when I let loose with the bleach bottle - for which I blame Gnats, lol.    

My new best friend asks God to forgive me every so often when we are chatting, she's very religious, but unbelievable wise.  She's quite a muse!  So too Dr. Mary Beard, who wrote a wonderful essay recently.  Must dig it out.  

But waffling, hi to old pals and I think of you often - we must arrange a day (evening) to be on Inta's at the same time.