Failing to be Moved

If you follow me on Twitter or we’re friends on Facebook, no doubt you’ve spotted me moaning about our house sale over the past few months. After 2 years on the market we accepted an offer in June (was it June? It could have been May, it’s all so very long ago) and since then I’ve felt like life has been on hold while we wait for other people to move things on (at a snail’s pace it would seem). At every single stage there have been hold ups, miscommunications, mistakes and, without going into the mind-numbingly boring details, it has, thus far, been a ruddy nightmare. And we still don’t have a moving date.

The thing is, speaking to other people who have recently been through the same process, we’re not alone. In fact, most people seem to find the experience nothing short of horrific. It’s not the physical moving process (though the control freak in me does NOT relish the prospect of giving three strangers a van full of my stuff and letting them drive off with it!), it’s the build up, the legalities, the bureaucratic faffery and general messiness of the thing. And it’s not as if it isn’t something that happens on a fairly regular basis. AND with the market as quiet as it is right now, surely all relevant parties should have more time to concentrate on the cases they do have.

What I’m saying is, it shouldn’t be this difficult, should it? I swear it will be a miracle if I make it into a new house without my hair having turned completely white. I’ve told N that we’re never moving again and we haven’t even moved yet! If I am totally truthful, I think one of the reasons I’m so fractious is that, in readiness for moving, and so we don’t have to pack up 150 tins of tomatoes/fruit and umpteen bags of rice/pasta, I have been running down my Zompocalypse cupboard which makes me feel vulnerable and a bit grumpy. If Z-Day hits now I shall be utterly livid.

If someone could just reassure me that it’ll all be fine, the Zompocalypse won’t break out until after the move and I’ve had chance to restock, and that by Christmas I’ll be settled in the new place and all this madness will be a distant memory, that would be lovely. Or feel free to purge yourself of your own horror stories too.

Let’s Get Saucy

Yesterday was the worst day of my life* and I have no-one to blame but myself. There I was, dishing up the chippy tea, when I looked in the fridge, then the cupboard and realised, all too late, that I had no tomato sauce. Had I realised before sending out my man-servant to procure said chippy tea, I could have averted my trauma with the addition of an order of curry sauce or even a cheap bottle of sauce from the chip shop itself. But no, I was too preoccupied with the ongoing mystery of my haunted washing machine to remember if I had enough ketchup. More fool me. I tried to make do with some mayonnaise but, to be honest, it just rubbed salt (and vinegar?!) into the wound.

In years past I had tomato sauce on everything – sandwiches, rice cakes, roast dinners or just as the main meal itself, the food I dunked into it being a mere by-product, a means with which to get the lovely red stuff into my mouth. Nowadays I’m a bit more restrained, I can take it or leave it (though I’d rather take it). It is, however, an ESSENTIAL component for two ‘meals’, those being bacon/black pudding sandwiches and chippy teas. Oh, and with broccoli, broccoli tastes wrong without tommy sauce. Very few things put me off food or ruin meals but a distinct lack of tomato sauce can be one of them.

I am definitely not addicted though, I know because 1) I’m not and 2) I know someone who is far more dependent on the ruby elixir. I have a friend, who shall remain nameless, who loves her tomato sauce SO much, that, when, as an adult, she lived with her brother (another fellow addict), they basically had a bottle (by which I mean those MASSIVE catering size ones) in every room of the house. When we went to the pub for lunch one day and they had run out of ketchup, she promptly walked out of the pub………… across the road, to the corner shop and bought a bottle, which, having liberally slathered on her pie (*snigger*) she passed round the rest of the diners in the pub. And she’s got a t-shirt that says ‘I Put Ketchup On My Ketchup!’. I’m tempted to buy her this .

Do you have a strong attachment to a particular condiment. Is it just tomato sauce that inspires such devotion?

*not actually the worst day of my life. That was the day I smashed a full bottle of wine on the kitchen floor.

Samsung Mob!lers

I’m pleased to report I am now officially a ‘Samsung Mob!ler’ which means I will be testing and reviewing shiny new Samsung gadgets this year. First up to be put through its paces will be the Galaxy Pro, a snazzy piece of kit with a QWERTY keyboard and a cornucopia of bells and whistles.

I think I fall into the ‘average mobile phone/gadget user’ category – I’m definitely not a tech-head but I’m always on the look out for technology that complements and enhances my lifestyle. I hope to be able to bring you honest and accessible blogs about how Samsung products can help do the same for you.

So, if you like your reviews to be fun, frank and free from overly confusing techno-babble, watch this space!

A Marriage of Two Halves

When I was 8 or 9 I went on holiday with my parents to Disney World where I met a girl who had the same camera as me (but a different colour). During a ‘breakfast with the stars’ (Mickey, Minnie, Donald et al) we sussed each other out and, for some reason, decided we quite liked each other – she had a talking bike, what wasn’t to love?! 😉

Many birthday parties, play fights, holidays, sleepovers, letters (before the advent of email, which has saved countless trees!), the odd drunken night out, the occasional argument, the writing of the best supernatural murder mystery film never made and a three weeks of madness ‘working’ on the UK tour of an Aussie band later, we are still, somehow, friends. Well, last week my old mate married her ‘other’ best buddy who, for reasons best known to himself, also shares her (as a Leeds fan, I should say ‘unhealthy’) interest in (among many other things) a certain South Yorkshire football team.

I was slightly disappointed there was no rendition of ‘Rovers Till I Die’ during the church service but I’ve got to say the beautiful cake made the point in much classier (and tastier!) fashion.

I resisted making my own speech, despite making threats to the contrary. It was probably for the best. While my friend and I have a million and one private jokes that have the capacity to render us immobile with laughter, I think reciting even a select few to a crowd of ‘innocents’ wouldn’t have been much good to anyone. Needless to say, if I had made a speech it would have been full of warm wishes for the future, lots of love (despite the bride and groom’s embargo on ‘soppy stuff’) and thanks for a lovely day. Oh, and probably some smut. *Clears throat* – ‘Marriage for men is much like a game of football. With skill and stamina you can last the distance. But dirty tackle will almost always get you sent off for an early bath!’. I’m sure her Mum would have just looooooved that!

On a more personal note, while it’s super fabulous that a lot of my friends are getting married (THREE weddings this month!), it means my own engagement ring is sparkling all the more accusingly at me. It’s been on my finger for over a year and we haven’t so much as set a date. I wonder if I may be more inspired to organise my own nuptials by the close of this month *looks for flying pigs* .

Look how lovely I am! (or Guardian Q&A’s)

Fellow comper, blogger and Twitter pal Kay Wilkinson has cyber-collared me to complete this little meme, chain blog survey thingumybobby. It’s a bit like those (fascinating? annoying?) ‘100 things about me’ questionnaires that used to do the rounds on Facebook. Well, the boy is at the pub (I like to let him off the leash once every half term) and I haven’t had a better offer so here are my answers.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

I’m not into hero-worship or idols – no-one’s perfect, we’re all just muddling along trying not to die. I like individuals who do things that don’t automatically benefit themselves, people who try to make the world a better place, fight the good fight and stick it to the man. I also like clever people and people who make me laugh. Mark Thomas fits the bill nicely.

When were you happiest?

From being 18 or 19 onwards (the time N and me started ‘courting’). But if you were to put a portion of deep-fried shredded crispy beef in front of me right now, I’d probably have to say – right now and pass the chopsticks!

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Blimey – how long have you got? I fall down a lot – it’s a combination of a dodgy hip and a habit of not looking where I’m going. But, hey, (so far) I’ve always managed to get back up again.

I suppose the most memorable incident was when I was at the height of my ‘gothic powers’ (how I laugh!). It happened during the first few months of Uni – about half the people in the block I was living in (biggup C Block Nicholson Hall at The Lawns) decided to go to the flicks to see ‘Stigmata’. I’m a BIG horror fan and have never considered myself particularly squeamish when it comes to fake gore, in fact I’ve always actively sought it out. The movie stars Patricia Arquette and centres around a woman suffering the wounds of Christ. At a certain part in the movie, she’s in hospital and they remove bandages from the wounds on her wrists – which literally gush with blood. I remember thinking “Ooooh, that’s a bit gross.”, then the next thing I knew, the girl sitting beside me was shaking me by the shoulder, my vision was blurry and I’d missed about two minutes of the movie. Not for the first time in my life (I’m needle phobic) I’d fainted. Pretty shameful under normal circumstances, doubly so in front of new friends but as the block goth with a room covered in Marilyn Manson and Evil Dead posters – well, you can imagine how my image was, shall we say, somewhat tarnished. Luckily the nickname ‘Plastic Goth’ (‘PG’ for short) never really stuck but I never fully lived it down either.

All this said, I don’t really suffer from embarrassment, life’s too short and there’s too much fun to be had to waste time worrying about making a fool of yourself. Which is a blooming good job really.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

I’m a bit of a bargain hunter, this combined with my typical Yorkshire frugality and the fact that if I want something worth a few bob I will try to win it (a semi-sucessful tactic), means I don’t often ‘splash out’. I recently treated myself to a pair of £100 boots, but I intend to make them earn their price-tag. If they give up the ghost before I do, I’ll be very disappointed. I don’t think something is ‘expensive’ if it’s worth it.

What is your most treasured possession?

My Gran’s silver charm bracelet that she gave me for my 18th birthday. It’s got about 30 charms on it, marking lots of the places she travelled to with my late Grandad, as well as other moments in her life. Most of the charms ‘do’ something – I used to play with it when I was a child and it brings back lots of memories.

Where would you like to live?

I would love my own farm/smallholding. Just me, my man, lots of cats and farm animals (and a broadband connection!) and I think I’d be pretty much in heaven. Though if I’m allowed to be greedy, I’d probably like a flat in London for when I get the occasional urge to be cosmopolitan.

What’s your favourite smell?

That’s a pretty mean question for someone who is olfactorily impaired. My sense of smell is rubbish and most smells don’t even register with me (a Godsend if you happen to be in a queue/on a bus next to a particularly ‘ripe’ individual). I do love the smell of rubber though – I remember spending many happy hours (well, probably minutes as my Mum would shoo me off) sniffing the inside of the washing machine (the rubber seal was rich pickings for a rubber-sniffer).

Who would play you in the film of your life?

I’d pick someone like Maggie Gyllenhaal (she’s amazing in ‘Secretary’) or Zooey Deschanel because I admire their spirit but if I were choosing based on similarity of appearance I think it would have to be either Samantha Morton (after a few pies) or Rebecca Callard.

What is your favourite book?

I’m really not good at favourites and I love books too much to choose just one. I worry if I pick one, I’ll offend the others and I won’t be allowed to read them again. The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, The Zombie Survival Guide, Cloud Atlas and The Gone-Away World are in my top 10 though. That’s the best I can do I’m afraid.

What is your most unappealing habit?

I swear quite a bit (unless I’m in company where my manners prohibit it) – is that unappealing? I suppose it depends who you ask.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

Princess Mononoke.

What is your earliest memory?

Eating a Milky Bar at the Laxey Wheel.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I’m not particularly big on guilt either – if it feels good and you’re not hurting anyone else, do it. I do watch the odd bit of trash TV though. I don’t do IACGMOOH or Big Brother but, against my own better judgement, I will occasionally dip into ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ or ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’. The intellectual part of me tells me it’s wrong, but the bit that likes people-watching and gawking at freakery tells it to shut up and we all watch it together anyway.

What do you owe your parents?

Neurosis and a hot temper.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

Maybe my Mum, for the odd sleepless night I caused her in my youth. But then, she made the decision to breed and it’s not like teenagers are meant to be plain sailing, so I can’t afford her that much sympathy. At least I never got pulled over by the cops for having a beer mat in place of a tax disc when I was a teen, eh Mum, eh?!

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My partner – goes without saying, but coming in at a very close second is food.

What does love feel like?

Jumping off a cliff knowing there’s someone there to catch you. A rush with a nice soft landing.

What was the best kiss of your life?

My first kiss with N – in a graveyard. Worth the (12 month) wait.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I saw this thing on Twitter/Loquax/teletext/The Guardian website…..”

“Bag of bast*rds!”

“Ah feck it, it’ll do.”

“It be reet!”

“I’m hungry!”
What is the worst job you’ve done?

Factory jobs when I was saving for Uni. In the salad factory I had to chop cucumbers for hours on end and actually got a blister on my hand as a result. I did learn a lot about cucumbers though – such as M&S and Netto have the same quality cucumbers, only the M&S ones are straighter and are packed with more care in fancier crates. It also taught me never to eat pre-packaged salad lunches – sometimes the tomatoes have dead flies on and sometimes the conveyor belt is going too fast to pick them off and sometimes they get sealed in the tub. *nods wisely*

The chocolate factory put me off Mini Heros for life – it was the height of summer and the sickly smell of warm chocolate was overpowering (even for me), particularly up top where we had to feed the sweets into a giant hopper which spat them out into the tins. We were allowed to eat the odd ‘sample’ but that novelty wore off very quickly. It was hard, monotonous work. I also shredded my hands with paper cuts every day breaking and making up boxes. Oh and the vast majority of the workforce were the scary sort of women you see brawling in town centres of a Friday/Saturday night, they HATED students with a passion and I feared for my life on a daily basis. But I made a lot of beer money and had fun with my friends, so it wasn’t all bad.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

I’d be more sporty, I think if I’d developed a passion for fitness early on I wouldn’t have such a problem shifting weight now. That’s the theory anyway. *eats a cupcake*

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

Amsterdam. Twice in the same week. Once at the hands of Feyenoord football hooligans who wanted to kill (but only managed to maim) the visiting Sheffield United fans and/or the home Sparta Rotterdam ones – we got caught up in some nastiness and had to get an armed escort back to the train station. And the other time……. well, it was Amsterdam, I’ll leave your imagination to fill in the blanks.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Completing my dissertation and getting my degree. Not bad considering a few months previous Mum had a massive brain haemorrhage (on Christmas Day of all days!) and nearly died. I was a bit distracted to say the least but managed to pull off a 1st.

When did you last cry, and why?

Yesterday. I cry when I’m frustrated – it’s like a safety valve. I open it up, have a wee sniffle, then I can carry on and face the world in all it’s madness once again.

How do you relax?

Walking and swimming. Fresh air and laughing with friends. Sitting in the sun watching the world go by. Music.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

Moving house – I genuinely love Hull so we’re staying in the city but I want to move somewhere less main-roady, with a garden. Also I’d like neighbours who can grasp the concept that rubbish goes in the dustbin not the front garden.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Pick your battles, don’t sweat the small stuff and never turn down the opportunity to have an adventure.