Thursday, March 31, 2005

Brief Encounters

I tried not to cry because when I did I couldn't stop. I was an expert at fighting off that surge of emotion and bringing the shutter down… but sometimes when it was dark and the house was silent and when your breathing was even and calm and the shadow crept over, my stomach turned and silent sobs exploded until sleep saved me. Couldn't you hear me through your dreams?...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


So I got back from Egypt just over a week ago which means that my glamorous golden suntan is most definitely on its last legs. I’m not a hard core sun-worshipper, but I’m a lover of lounging and the feeling of toasting lightly in the sunshine for me is up there with Ben & Jerry’s. I do think it’s funny that when you return from your travels with a golden glow people comment on how healthy you look…In reality of course, you have been blasted all over with evil aging radiation and the bronze you’re so proud of is a singed crust, but it’s true, you do look and feel better. Some people take it way too far… the leathery look is not a good idea, particularly when teamed with bright yellow hair and pink lipstick (as demonstrated throughout the duration of our Egyptian getaway) nor is the ‘I got burnt on the first day, but so what?’ look when certain sunbathers positively spit-roast their bright red bodies. Any areas that have 3rd degree burns will be covered with thick layers of pasty factor 50 or random items of clothing but the rest of the tender pinkish skin is destined to be continuously nuked.
I have been spending the last few days slathering myself regularly with lotions and potions to maintain my Egyptian tan and to stop the top layer shedding. I think however it’s finally beaten me because there’s a distinct sign of flakeage, and once that starts happening, there’s no stopping it. The only way forward for me now is to fake and risk yellow palms, orange knees, a streaky face and the potential for being mistaken for a jaundice sufferer for the sake of that healthy glow (though it’s definitely worth it because doesn’t Cellulite look so much less offensive when it’s brown?) The key question remains –‘ Why-oh-why can no one make a fake tan that doesn’t stink?’ It’s all very well being a bronzed goddess, but if you’re surrounded by a lingering aroma of something that most closely resembles frying celery, it’s difficult to conceal the fact that you either have very interesting taste in Eau de Toilette, or you’re a faker….

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Objects appearing out of context make me feel uncomfortable…It may just be that these visual non-sequiturs grate against my Bree-like desire for tidiness and order but they can also make my toes curl and my mind run on overtime as I obsessively try to construct a scenario that makes sense… Take the shoe by the railway track at the station this morning as an example. Shoes admittedly seem to pop up in all kinds of peculiar places,(not just on people's feet) but the escapees always make me wonder… This was a smart black high-heeled court shoe… probably belonging to a super efficient, superbly glamorous London exec. My guess is that it slipped from her foot as she was pushed onto the train by a bundle of rude rush hour business commuters (I hope it was nothing more sinister)… Maybe she’d accidentally bought a shoe size too large (had she recently recovered from Elephantiasis?) or she had mistakenly selected the extra shiny, slippery tights from M&S which everyone knows are a recipe for daylong slidey-footed disaster. My next question is ‘Then what did she do?’ Did she lean down and risk electrocution to try and rescue it? Did a heroic hunky guy offer to grab it for her in exchange for a date, Cinderella style? Did she scuttle to her seat, hide behind the FT and try to pretend it didn’t happen? Maybe she had her gym trainers in her bag and she popped them on and ran into the office like that red-haired 80s icon from ‘Working Girl’?… Did she hobble into the office in one shoe, lolloping from high heel to bare sole…scowling and trying not to attract attention? Did she pop into the shop that she bought said shoes from initially and try to negotiate a deal on a left foot? What if her bank balance was running low and she could only afford a pair of orange flip-flops?… Maybe she then spent the day trying to convince her colleagues that they are the ‘this season, must have’ look for office divas? Perhaps she spends all day behind a desk as a matter of course, sliding into her slippers as soon as she sits down so being shoeless really doesn’t matter? Yikes… I even checked my own feet, just to make sure it wasn’t MY shoe… Sheesh.. I need a lie-down after all that thinking...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

How to avoid a Bad Boyfriend - Don't date a Mystery man

She spots him at the bar… his very own bar in fact, and there is something about the way he surveys his domain (and her body) that makes her spine tingle. She is feeling supremely confident (the combined effect of a new hair-do and two thirds of the vodka shots on the menu – the chilli flavoured version being her only mistake) and she wobbles over to him. From somewhere he produces a glass of champagne and the bubbles go up her nose. He is not put off by her snorting and passes her a napkin. He is the tall, dark and handsome type… a brooding Heathcliffe of a man with wild hair and well manicured nails. He tells her his name is M.. and she replies ‘Elmo’ and eventually they kiss whilst her friends rub their hands together at the prospect of a lifetime of free drinks and lock-ins…
He picks her up in his soft-top the following night and they speed out of the city, away from the neon with the wind in their hair. Out of the darkness comes a flashing blue light, a siren screams and a police car appears in the rear view mirror. He pulls over, ‘Shit..What do they want now?’’ and goes with the policeman to sit in his car. She sits in the darkness feeling exposed in her short, short skirt and high, high heels and then the policeman approaches. When he asks her to confirm the name of the driver, she can only reply ‘M..’ and when he presses for a surname she squirms. He asks her where her Mystery man lives and she hasn’t got a clue, he asks how she knows him and she admits she barely does. He looks at her like she is a girl in a short skirt with a stranger in the middle of no-where… and she realises that that’s exactly what she is. When he gets into the car looking shifty and heads back towards the neon she just can’t wait to get home.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

It's not a nudist camp, you know

When you are in the changing room at the gym, why oh why is there ALWAYS a person who HAS to walk around naked, admire themselves naked in the mirrors from all angles, clean their teeth naked, blow dry their hair naked, BEND OVER way too many times naked, be using the locker next to you naked and have no sense of personal space? It’s just not necessary. Grrrrr.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Walking like an Egyptian (part three)

I find that often in foreign resorts, due to the language barrier there are always a couple of ‘in jokes’ which get used by absolutely every single member of staff, and which you have to laugh heartily at every time, as though it’s the first time you’ve heard it (and let’s face it, often it wasn’t even funny the first time.) The good workers of Egypt are no exception and the buffet breakfast was by far the most wearing. Part of their super service was that your plate was whisked away from you the very second that you raised your last mouthful to your lips (I think the challenge was to have cleared the table, washed and ironed the tablecloth, reprinted the menus and re-parqueted the floor before you’d finished chewing… I think one guy almost managed it too.)

The accompanying banter every morning was as follows:

Smiley waiter (grinning) : ‘Gud munning surrr, madem’
Elmo & P (trying to smile back at him through last mouthful of breakfast) : ‘Good morning’
Smiley waiter (picking up E & P’s empty plates) : ‘Finished with these?’
Elmo & P (swallowing furiously) : ‘Yes, thankyou’
Smiley waiter (picking up E and P’s empty cups) : ‘Finished with these?’
Elmo & P (brushing away crumbs) ‘Yes, thank you’
Smiley waiter (grinning mischievously and picking up Elmo’s sunglasses from the table) : ‘Finished with these?’
Elmo and P (laughing politely) ‘Ha ha, no, we’ll keep those thanks…’
Smiley Waiter ‘HA HA HA’ (walks off with shaking shoulders chuckling to himself)…

Monday, March 21, 2005

Walking like an Egyptian (part two)

Plunging into turquoise and into a world where real life is muffled. Everything is moving and twitching, rocked by the water… fingers of coral and anemone beckon. The colour is startling… oranges fluorescent and purples like velvet…It’s a space that’s forever shifting and changing and the bubbles rise through it like droplets of chandelier crystal. You reach out your warm hand and I take it and squeeze it so tightly... I can see your eyes through the glass, and they’re smiling back at me.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Walking like an Egyptian (part one)

So I’ve just got back from a week in the sun where the red sea lapped against the terracotta sands and the palm trees swayed in the balmy breeze… Okay, okay, maybe it wasn’t completely idyllic but it was pretty relaxing, involved a lot of food and a lot more lazing around and despite the likelihood of my skin eventually turning into a chamois leather I am a toasty shade of digestive biscuit which with the aid of copious slatherings of body lotion will undoubtedly last until at least the middle of next week…

The hotel was a huge, marble and mock gold affair… smiley Egyptian men popping out of every corner eager to carry your flip-flops, bring you crazy coloured cocktails or to just bob up and down and say ‘Well-cumb, well-cumb’ a lot. The main sticking point was that it was a hotel with more than its’ fair share of Russian holidaymakers. I’m not prone to prejudice and I’m sure that there are loads of lovely Russian people out there… it just seemed to be a particular type of Russian and one that made for a terrible holiday companion. Picture short men with thick necks and bulging bellies… think big muscles (of the steroid-induced variety) and pale pasty skin with patches of sunburn and skin-peel… Think close set eyes, no chin and a shell suit… think thong swimpants (okay, enough already). The fact that the hotel was all-inclusive seemed to be a serious novelty to these guys… manners were not at all apparent. Plates were piled high with every sort of tasty morsel (as long as it was meat) and I’m sure I heard grunting. The girlfriends were even more startling… smug and sexy with tiny frames and tight behinds in their teeny bikinis. They tottered along the beach in their pointy stilettos and layers of make up, surviving only on chain-smoked cigarettes…(having seen the boys up against the girls I couldn’t help thinking I was glad not to be a single girl in St Petersburg)… Needless to say, you wouldn’t want to mess with the Russians… there were the muscles for starters not to mention the whispers of Mafioso connections, so we just moaned and sniggered to ourselves… there’s nothing like a good dose of people watching to make the afternoon by the pool just that little bit more interesting…

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


The cold really gets to me… icy fingers poke and prod and dig until the chill is pushed deep inside and the marrow of my bones begins to ache. When I am frozen I know the only thing that could possibly warm me is moving closer to you… the only thing that will ever help thaw me is you wrapping your blanket of heat around and around me until we both burst into flames…

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Easy like Sunday market

Ahhhh, the first Sunday of every month… no, no, I’m not talking about Holy Communion, it is the day for giving thanks for the wonder that is the local Farmers Market. It’s the day when all the locals shun Tesco (did you know that 1 in every 8 retail pounds are spent there?!) and instead pretend to be All-Organic Wholesome Vegetarians for the day… they don their green wellies (even though it’s held in a hall) and their wax jackets (even though the hall is centrally heated) and queue up for aaages in the hope of becoming the proud owner of the strangest shaped vegetable. Some will make a purchase which they think is a large pumpkin, and when they get home and brush the layers of mud off, realise it’s a small radish. Some will buy a vegetable without actually asking what it is, and then it will lurk ominously in their kitchen whilst the scour recipe books until they finally find out how to cook it and it’s gone mouldy and wrinkly. As I wander around I am constantly amazed by how enthusiastically the vendors can sing the praises of their chilli chocolate, or lychee chutney for hour upon hour… how fabulous to actually enjoy (and believe in) your job like that. One of the greatest benefits is that there’s lots to sample… yummy pastries, Indian snacks, sheep cheese with gherkins...(on reflection, probably one to avoid) in fact, so much food that you don’t need to bother with breakfast. I just love to leave with my little box of olives and some stinky cheese and then munch on a rustic lunch safe in the knowledge that I’ve supported my local industry (and not my local multi-national) … a charitable thought for a Sunday, if not an officially Religious one…

Monday, March 07, 2005

Booth boundaries

So Saturday night was a bit of a celebration… After making my usual dramatic entrance to the bar (yes, sliding down the steps and ending up on my arse), much fun and revelry ensued. It struck me at one point that you can develop an intense dislike of somebody in a second… all they have to do is open their mouth and they suddenly slide down in your opinion from ‘indifferent’ to ‘loathe’. The guy in question was hanging out in ‘the booth’, trying to impress a couple of sloaney types…

Elmo (politely, if somewhat drunkenly)‘ Scuse me, please can you stop lounging all over my coat and my birthday presents... they’re going to get all squashed’

Guy (smugly, snottily and obnoxiously… standing up) ‘Er, Er, yah…. Erm… To be fair, there is a perfectly adequate cloakroom system here where you should be storing your coats… then they wouldn’t be in my way…’

Elmo (irritably, but even more smugly… drawing herself up to full height by standing on tip-toes) ‘To be fair, you are sitting in our reserved area, which we can do what the heck we like with… and I’d like you to move…’

Guy (deflated)… ‘Oh’

Elmo (to herself) ‘ha, ha, ha… you nobber…’

Friday, March 04, 2005

Quiz nite

So last night was the office quiz night… sounds sad but actually a great evening of friendly banter and stimulating intellectual conversation (and also LOTS of free-flowing booze) all for a fiver – can’t be bad. Our secret weapon was ‘Uncle Steve’ who wiped the floor with everyone else in the room in the music rounds. Admittedly he does have the slight advantage of being a Deejay (of the fiftyish, kids party variety- not the twentyish Ibiza nightclub variety) but his speed at recognising the intros of ancient rock tunes was quite phenomenal (even better than Bill Bailey on ‘Never mind the Buzzcocks’). Our falling down point was history (isn’t it always?) of which none of us new a darn thing…from wives outliving Henry 8th to various bloody and ancient battles (Apparently the one with the roses was not between the Tudors and Stewarts) …though we did eventually work out that a lot of people were killed in the middle ages by the plague. I had a brief moment of glory when I scored a last minute extra point in the music round on a question that foxed the rest of the team…(it was like the last few minutes of the Karate Kid when everything goes slow motion and the rank outsider sneaks in a winning move). It didn’t push us up to first place, but the answer?…‘Hounds of Love’ by the ‘Futureheads’… I may be nearly thirty, but am I down with the kids or what?

Thursday, March 03, 2005


If you saw me curled up behind a copy of the Guardian on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon, my total absorption would lead you to assume that I am a politically-aware, serious minded, current affairs obsessed academic type who could confidently and coherently discuss Iraq…or the state of the NHS…or the Foxhunting debate whenever required. How wrong you’d be… In fact I use the Guardian as a shield behind which I leaf through the current edition of the ‘Innovations’ catalogue and chuckle heartily to myself at the hilarious ‘must-have’ items, which you’re supposed to wonder how you’ve ever managed to survive without. I did once see a lady walking steadfastly across her lawn wearing the plastic shoes with the spikes on them that are meant to aerate your lawn. She had a dreamy distracted look on her face; presumably she was imagining her scraggy, dandelion infested backyard becoming a bowling-green overnight. My guess is that ‘Innovations’ customers are too embarrassed that they believed the marketing bollocks to ever send anything back….

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


I became fiercely independent after you left. I went to the cinema alone…ducked in while it was dark and loved having both arm-rests to myself. I wandered around the supermarket and bought gin and chocolate ice cream and asparagus and all the things I’d forgotten I loved to eat. I soaked in the bath for hours, using up all the hot water and then I snuggled up in three towels at a time. I loved spending lots more evenings with my friends, the catching up combined with the crying. The only thing was, I loved you more than ever and I hated being fiercely independent on my own.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Dancing Queen

So on Friday night I went dancing… a slightly sweaty cellar club was the venue, and a Top Workmate’s leaving doo the occasion. Within minutes of stepping onto the dance floor I was surrounded by a crazy, Japenese midget in full combat gear, (as my sister says ‘Anything goes in Brighton’) a six foot-five Pamela-Anderson-esque bloke with the biggest boobs I’ve ever seen, (I tried not to stare, but you just can’t help it can you?) and a guy who looked like H from Steps’ twin brother who’d learnt all the dance routines, but was dropped from the band at the last minute due to lack of rhythm. The two blondes from my office staggered back and forth from time to time gradually deteriorating due to extended chardonnay exposure and the new boy just concentrated on smiling and trying really hard to stay standing up. Now that I’m just teetering on the sunny side of the big three-oh (9 days to go and counting) I’m not sure what happens with the whole ‘going dancing’ thing. I know that you’re more inclined to go to ‘lounge bars’ that sport small cheesy flashing dance floors and a bias towards men fighting middle aged spread and wearing slip-ons, the thought of which doesn’t make me wanna grab my dancing shoes… I don’t think I’m ready for tea-dances just yet, but perhaps some grown-up sultry salsa would fill the void (though at the first sniff of a bolero jacket, I’m out of there)… The last time I went to a real-live ‘nite-club’ I was chatted up (very badly) by a little boy with a very dodgy pubescent moustache (his aim in growing it I think was to try and look a little less like a minion from the Blazin’ Squad. After being asked if I’d like to ‘get to know him a bit better’ I did mention the fact that a ten-year age gap was a bit much for me (that and the fact he looked like a minion from the Blazin’ squad). He responded deflatedly with a wink (yikes) one of those hand-flicking boo-yakka-sha’s in the style of Ali-G (ha ha ha) and said ‘Stay young laydee, stay young’ (double yikes). He ended by clicking his fingers, pointing in my direction and walking away backwards … I think he was trying to look mysterious…It was a most top night but I don’t really love being made to feel like a grandma when I head out… Age was no issue on Friday night because copious sunbed use had aged most of the clientele to looking way past 30. I did however loose my cool a bit when I managed to get my very ‘this season’ butterfly brooch caught up in the Japanese midget’s hair as he sashayed around me. We freed it eventually and the music was load enough to drown out his screams… so a groovesome night was had by all.. (Note to self: get ID that says I’m 21 so I can keep on going dancing in real ‘nite-clubs’… )

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