Posted in humour, television

Reality TV – Mixing It Up A Bit

My television has been permanently stuck on channel 5 since I moved house and lost the remote control. I turn it on, get cosy, then remember I have no remote, so channel 5 it is. Channel 5 has been an eye opener for me, and I’ve now become a reality TV addict (I also know a lot about the law when it comes to evictions, bailiffs and the like). As a result of watching CBB, CBB’s Bit On The Side and Make or Break (to name but a few) I’ve been working on my own ideas for reality tv shows.

*Googles pitching programming ideas to channel 5*

My first idea is more pay back rather than a serious pitch. I’d like to see all of the producers, writers, directors, team etc.. of Big Brother locked up in the BB house for four weeks. There should be a padded cell, this would be for timeout mainly, but on the first night the person whose idea to create the program should be locked in there and not allowed out until they have successfully completed a task. The task being to give the correct answer to one simple question. “What is the name of the dog that fathered the Queen’s Corgis?” The alcohol for the duration of the series would be stored in the padded cell. The rest of the contestants will be able to monitor the cell 24 hours a day. Let the games begin.

My next idea is a serious contender, it’s an adaption of an unsuccessful show that only lasted for one season. The Job Interview aired on Channel 4 in 2016, real life interviews with real candidates competing for real jobs. I think I know where it went wrong and how it could be improved upon (if anyone is thinking of stealing my ideas remember this post will have a publication date! You have been warned).

The Job Interview made the mistake of being too serious, it also scared the pants off anyone who may have been looking for a job. The new trend seemed to involve lots of psychometric tests that when under pressure you’re bound to fluff up. So I have an idea to alleviate that kind of pressure, but also get a very good insight into the candidate’s ‘real’ personality. It would be something like First Dates meets The Job Interview with the volume of alcohol as supplied to contestants on Big Brother.

I was advised, when attending an informal meeting, to follow the lead of the person I was trying to impress when it came to the number of drinks consumed. He was a piss head! Result! Assuming that advice is a ‘thing’ it would be obligatory for the lead interviewer to set the pace and drink a bucket load of booze. A second interviewer would be there to take notes, they’d have to drink a little alcohol as well so the interviewee was not  put off imbibing. This could be a real hit! It certainly adheres to the formula for good car crash TV.

At the risk of just chucking booze into the formula for all my reality TV program ideas, I could envisage all of the above programmes meet The Jeremy Kyle Show. Could you imagine that, alcohol on The Jeremy kyle Show. BUT I’m working on something a little more sophisticated for Jezzer, I’m thinking of something along the lines of Jezzer does Come Dine With me… “And the Father is…..those scallops done ok for you my lovely?”

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Posted in humour, social media

keyboard Warriors – Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

I’m not a religious person, but after four years living in Northern Ireland, and my Mother’s newfound obligation to attend church weekly, I have an insight into how being a Christian is supposed to work. I also remember those religious school assemblies, and attended lunchtime Scripture Union as I didn’t have any friends (and we got to sing cute songs about flags flying high from the castle of our hearts).

I enjoyed bible stories, they were great stories, always with a great punchline that was intended to guide us on the right path in life. I do honestly believe that they formed a large part of my moral education. The four main phrases engraved on my brain (and if I was so inclined would possibly choose to have tattooed along my arms) are:

  • Judge not lest ye be judged (that’s my favourite).
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (rarely works this one).
  • Cast your bread upon the water and it will return as a sandwich (hope it’s not a Subway sandwich, I don’t know what that is that they try to pass off as bread).
  • How you live your life on earth determines the size of your crib in Heaven (paraphrased poorly perhaps).

I am sharing this with you to let you know, based on the way I was brought up, how shocked I am when I read some of the things that anonymity allows people to write on social media. And I truly wonder what kind of world we are living in, and the kind of world we would be living in if these people behaved like this in everyday life.

Today I read about the Clooney foundation funding the education of around 3000 Syrian refugees. The headline made it sound like George Clooney and his wife were doing this personally. Those who didn’t make the effort to read the full article then jumped on the bandwagon and the venom began to spew.

“…a great way to reduce your tax liability…”
“…great PR for them….”

So, in real life, there I am helping someone across the road, or carrying someone’s shopping for them (nothing as exciting or high profile as the Clooney foundation) and I get yelled at:

“Look at her, she’s only doing it to get that staircase fitted in her mansion in Heaven…”

“Blimey, doesn’t she think she’s had enough sandwiches the fat cow!”

Celebrity bashing appears to be a popular pastime on social media. People who live and love to hate those more successful, better looking and wealthier than themselves. Celebrity Big Brother started last night, a programme I’ve only really caught glimpses of over the years. I was home alone and still haven’t located the remote control after my house move, so I left it on Channel 5 (Not sure at what point it got stuck on Channel 5, probably another occasion I felt like watching something intellectually unchallenging). Today social media was alive and kicking with insults, condemnation and personal attacks on the “call themselves f****in celebs”; words like ‘trashy’, ‘evil’, ‘bitch’ all crawled out of the woodwork.

So, as a voyeur, in a new social setting, the pub for example, amongst people you have never met, and do not know, is this how people are judged? Can you imagine, if every day these keyboard warriors were let loose on the general public. Judging, condemning, insulting, racist, homophobic, critical, unkind, body shaming, parent shaming, prejudiced, bigoted COWARDS.

Wow! I’m glad I got THAT off my chest. My big, wobbly, saggy chest, the result of 50 years on this planet, yoyo dieting, and 12 months of breastfeeding. Fortunately I haven’t exposed any part of my boobs on social media so don’t really need to defend them quite so vehemently. I will leave you with this thought; Judge not Lest Ye Be Judged, should be everyone’s mantra. It could change the world. #judgenotlestyebejudged

Posted in comedy, Dating & Relationships, humour, women

I Love Big Knickers because…

I Love Big Knickers Because….

Oh come on, who doesn’t? I love them because they are comfortable. The ones you can pull all the way up to your boobs. No, not the incredibly uncomfortable spandex ones that just push the fat up underneath your armpits so you have an extra pair of boobs. The nice, soft, cotton ones that don’t roll down beneath your tummy apron; that constant reminder that you were probably the last person to have an operation before they invented keyhole surgery.

Visible panty line is a thing of the past when you’ve got your big knickers on, no tight hems highlighting all your lumps and bumps, digging in half way through your love handles accentuating your Michelin man physique. No silly triangles riding up your front and back bottom all day, flossing your lady’s chamber with every step you take. I lose concentration quite easily at my age, if I’m not in my biggest knickers I will be adjusting them every five minutes whatever company I’m in.

My favourite days of the week are the ones just after I’ve done my laundry. I don’t have a whole week’s worth of the best big knickers, just four pairs, four days of bliss. I’ll approach that clothes airer with a spring in my step as I take the biggest pair and smile, safe in the knowledge everything will be in the right place that day.

My only real disappointment with my big knickers is that they started life as white knickers. I’m too lazy to separate my whites and coloureds, well I don’t really have many white clothes. So I have big grey knickers. Totes embarrassing on the two occasions I found myself in A&E and had to strip off; coupled with the fact I was also wearing my white/grey bra!

I’ve heard women saying that they feel sexy if they’re wearing lacy, ill fitting, pants and matching bra. I wouldn’t feel sexy on a date if I was constantly shuffling from one bum cheek to another, trying to free the G String from its strangle hold on my trapped pubes. Far from it.  I certainly wouldn’t feel sexy undressing to reveal my tummy apron in its black lace hammock, or my boobs spilling out over the top of my push up bra (picture melons housed in two eye patches sewn together, on second thoughts…don’t!)

OK, being honest here… in my younger days, before babies, the menopause, an under-active thyroid and a penchant for beer and cheese… I did browse, and purchase, some delicate little frillies. They were reserved for the bedroom though, so I didn’t need to suffer the torment of having to dress to suit my underwear. But, one of the MANY things I love about being fifty is not giving a damn (or pretending not to give a damn). Forget learning to feel comfortable in your own skin, I want, and do, feel comfortable in my clothes, especially my big knickers!

Posted in comedy, social media

The Treadmill That Is Social Media – Can’t live With It, Can’t Live Without It.

I don’t just feel like I’m running on a treadmill that won’t turn off, or trying to juggle too many balls in the air; I feel like I’m trying to do both.

As someone who uses social media to try and get work, and promote myself, I don’t feel like I can try the, ‘My Week Without Social Media’ experiment. Besides, everyone is doing it and it gets boring to read after a while. We all know that hyperventilation kicks in after an hour, and then by day three they discover how rich their lives have become as they reintegrate back into normal life. I reckon it’s like dieting, once they start back into it they spend more hours on the computer than before they deprived themselves. Gain a week, lose a month.

You think you’re getting a handle on managing your excessive number of social media accounts, then they start making extra demands of your time. Come on, do the quiz that your mate only got nine out of ten correct answers, it’s the hardest quiz, like ever. Then you don’t publish your results because you only got three correct, you have a degree and they don’t know the difference between, ‘your’, ‘you’re’, ‘there’ and ‘their’. You do realise you can do it a second time and publish your revised answers don’t you? But just get one wrong to make it look believable.

Of course I’m intrigued to see which famous celebrity I look like, who wouldn’t be. I’ve never published any of those results either. I scrub up well on a Saturday night but I’m not so delusional that I think I look like Mila Kunis, besides I’m blonde and fifty, and haven’t had plastic surgery recently. I do enjoy the ‘who were you in a past life?’ Usually turns out to be someone who was still alive in my lifetime, so not sure how that works. And what about the career I should have had if I hadn’t been a stay at home mum? Yes! That is exactly what I would have been, an astronaut, suits claustrophobics down to the ground that one.

I care very much about all the hideous diseases and cruelty in the world, I really do, but I’m pretty sure typing ‘Amen’ or sharing posts that give me nightmares for weeks, will not make a significant difference, no matter how much you tell me I’m a total, uncaring, unfeeling cow if I don’t. And you’re right, I had no idea who Prince’s dad was. I still don’t. I don’t have time to click through 20 pages that take ninety seconds to load in the dramatic build up to the answer. Google it. That’s what I do now, I just google it.

My favourite headlines usually include, ‘…and you wouldn’t believe what happened next’. I know what happens next, another site with ninety second loading pages. What about all those photos? We seem to have a new generation of Doctors who can diagnose illnesses, and save lives, just from a brief look at a photo… ‘you won’t believe what they saw…’ You’re right, I don’t believe it. What disturbs me the most about ‘sharing’, is the number of people that are happy to click share without doing any research. Some poor bloke is sitting at home enjoying his first cup of tea of the day when the police kick his front door in. Why? Because he pissed someone off recently and they posted his pic telling everyone he beat an old lady over the head with a bicycle pump. ‘Plz sher so we can catch this scum!’

Scroll on by you might say…don’t log in you might say…. But if I didn’t how would I ever see those wonderful quick and tasty recipes for midweek meals? I wouldn’t know what is good or bad for me in my daily diet. I certainly would have no idea what Prosecco is, or that everyone would like to have it on tap in a variety of gadgets (We seem to have bred a society of alcoholics). Most importantly, I wouldn’t know how many hours my son has slept by stalking his green light status, or how many of my friends are online and ignoring my messages!

 

Posted in opinion

Repopulating The Faroe Islands – The Right Or Wrong Way To Do It?

The Faroe islands are an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, about halfway between Norway and Iceland. With a rapidly dwindling population desperate measures have been taking place to prevent its long term, inevitable, extinction. To ensure the sustainability of residents, wives are being sought from further afield, the Philippines and Thailand being the favourite choices. This is as a result of the female to male ratio, with approximately 2,000 fewer women to men. The majority, but not exclusively, of these women are located via a variety of online sources.

Where I can see the necessity for this surge in International marriages, and the desire to secure the beauty and future of these Islands; it does not sit comfortably with me the countries from which these wives are being selected. ‘International’ is not exclusive to developing countries, so why are they targeted as a first port of call?

Unlike human trafficking these arrangements are considered to be consensual and arranged via legal, International, marriage agencies. But surely we have to consider the motivation behind that consent where a woman would leave the warm climate and culture of her homeland to relocate to an island with a vast chasm of language and cultural differences; a six month long winter, with a good summer day only reaching a maximum of  16°C.

One young woman, Adelaimar C. Arias-Jose, from the Philippines writes :

“It pains me to admit but poverty is a big problem for a lot of people in the Philippines. Young women here are willing to be a girlfriend, partner or wife of a retired foreigner because they will have food and a roof over their head”.

Clearly poverty is an overriding factor for these women, that is one of their motivations. In a similar way that prostitution and stripping can be seen to have an economic motivation, and yet we find people that will tell us that it is their choice, that have freely made these decisions to follow these paths in life. Yes, they are free to choose to seek a better life for themselves and their families by uprooting and giving up all that they know and hold dear to themselves. But it makes me sad to think that this has become a necessity for survival, on both sides, the Faroe islands and the immigrants to those Isles.

In an ideal world I’d like to think that the husbands will be warm and loving, and the wives will be happy and settled. But we know that won’t always be the case. The government are very active on the Faroe Islands in enabling integration, with free language classes and support for the newcomers. They appreciate how valuable they are to the labour market, but the language barrier means they are only able to take on lower level work. Hopefully over time integration will be easier as the barriers are overcome and the next generation of children will rise through the ranks ensuring the Asian population is no longer the lower working class of the islands.

 

Posted in Dating & Relationships, humour, women

Sex & The Hormone Gremlins – Would You Really Rather Have A Cup Of Tea?

I remember as  a kid telling my mum I’d never stop reading The Beano.

“I always said that when I was your age”, she replied, “but you will”.

Of course she was right. Soon Jackie had replaced Bunty and your reading matter becomes a journey into middle age. You have a  dalliance with Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, where you learn that ‘little black dress’ will be a permanent feature in your wardrobe until the day you die; and then on to the slippery slope of Take A Break & Woman’s Own. I’m not sure at what age you settle on People’s Friend and Reader’s Digest as I’m not quite there yet.

It’s the same with sex. You hear and read about women of a certain age expressing, “I’d rather have a cup of tea”. And you laugh. Looking coquettishly up at your partner you say, “That will never happen to me”. But it does. Those evil little hormones don’t only take over your body, they also take over your mind and libido.

Intimate relations follow a similar path to changing your comics. Your sexual Beano phase, the one you think you will never give up, is when you are young and horny. Ripping each others clothes off at every opportunity, spending so much time in bed (or anywhere no-one is watching) you consider giving up work, living in a campervan, freeing yourself from all adult responsibility, just so you can satisfy this massive surge of sex hormones that are screaming, “Do it! Do it!”, at you.

Your Jackie phase, the one where you have started to reluctantly give up on your Beano, becomes the reality check. OK, you do have to get up for work in the morning. You will lose your job if you pull another sickie. It is ok to have an early night and just cuddle. You have to convince yourself of this as there is always that niggling feeling at the back of your mind where you wonder if you’re having enough sex, and the same amount of sex as other people. So you graduate to the  Marie Claire & Cosmopolitan phase. This is when you ask yourself:

Does he love me enough?

Can I still turn my man on?

Am I an oddity just because sometimes I do really need to eat?

There is an interim phase of Practical Parenting & Bringing Up Baby. This is the ‘Sex, what sex?’ phase of your life. Feel free to leave a comment if you have experience of this phase, as a single parent I wouldn’t even dare to make something up to fill this paragraph.

The Take A Break & Woman’s Own phase seem to span the biggest portion of a woman’s life. Let’s fast forward to being 50+. By this time there are no rules. It’s every woman and man for themselves. The rule book, along with the matching undies and razor, has long since been discarded. I am Wo Man, hear me roar! And roar I will. You have finally reached a point in your life when you know what you want, but you don’t want it anymore. The hormone gremlins are casting their final spell on you (see A Day In The Life Of Mr And Mrs Flush – Surviving The Men-O-Pause) According to The Office Of National Statistics, in 2013 the number of divorces was highest amongst women and men aged between 40-44. Just Saying.

Somewhere along the line we left the roll over and fart joy of sex behind us and opted out altogether. Maybe it’s not the hormones after all, maybe it’s the men. We’re not the only ones that start sporting Amazonian style armpits and pubes. Things creep in slowly. One day you ask yourself, “when did he stop cleaning his teeth before bed?”

We laugh at the sitcoms when, during intercourse, couples start discussing the shopping list, or on staring vacantly up at the ceiling remember it really does need painting. We laugh because we recognise this scenario. Momentarily we consider spicing up our love lives, planning romantic evenings that’ll get the old juices flowing again. But then that hormone gremlin says, “Nah! Can’t be bothered. I really would rather have a cup of tea”.

Posted in Dating & Relationships, humour, women

The Cat Man & The Mummy’s Boy – Some Men To Avoid

On Saturday I was thrilled to be invited onto a radio station to answer some questions about blind dates; this was as the result of a piece I had published in The Huffington Post. At the age of 50 I feel plenty qualified to talk about dating & relationships. I don’t have any qualifications, just experience. Mostly because I am 50 and live alone. I have come close a few times to getting a cat, but I wouldn’t be able to live with the stereotype. I don’t ever want to be the cat lady spinster who smells of piss, to be honest I never really want to smell of piss.

There are some men to avoid, actually probably a lot of men to avoid. Let’s start with the ones that ‘still’ live at home. Clearly I’m emphasising the word, ‘still’, as there are men who have to move back home after a relationship break up, or may be carers, or have basically had some life event that has forced them into that position. I’m talking about men over 25 who have never left home. Dates with these guys start off OK until you go for dinner with his folks. It goes something like this:

Mum answers the door in her pinny, flour in her hair and smells of roses. Where is that lovely man of yours that you are getting so serious about you agreed to this dinner? Turns out he’s lying on the sofa watching telly. “Another beer dear?” His mum asks as you follow her into the front room. If this happens to you it is the precise moment that you suddenly remember your dog is dying and you only popped in to let them know you will have to take a rain check. If you don’t you will spend the rest of the evening being asked if you cook, sew, iron, bake….while mummy waits on him hand and foot.

The next one to avoid is the man who lives on his own with a cat or cats. The father of my child was this one. I had just been diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of skin cancer (it still hasn’t finished me off yet) and he was kind and attentive. If I hadn’t been so vulnerable I wouldn’t have overlooked the cat, his red velour sweater (which I kept hiding at the bottom of his ironing basket) and his single minded determination to let his body odour flow freely rather than use deodorant. And yet he used to leave the room to fart? I haven’t even got round to the cat yet.

The Cat. The cat called Sarah. I thought it was an odd name for a cat, guessed it might be an ex girlfriend’s name or something, never asked. This cat didn’t seem to like my company very much, I was an interloper. She  was a very sneaky cat, she only scratched me when he wasn’t looking. And she gave me a look, you know, the ‘I’ll get rid of you in the end’ kind of look. Trust me, that was a joint effort and not solely down to the cat. He let her lick the dinner plates clean. When he came in from work he walked past me, straight out to the back door, and sat on the step stroking her. One morning I packed up my things, left him a note and headed off into the sunset. Actually, I phoned him at work, told him I’d left him a note, but didn’t want him to get home and think he’d been burgled.

A week later I discovered I was pregnant. The best thing he gave me in life was my son. I’m glad I left when I did, if I hadn’t I would never have had the courage to leave and do it on my own; and he was not the man to bring up my child with. A story never to be shared out of respect for my son and his father. He won’t mind the other stuff I’ve written. I almost forgot to include the bit about what happened on our first date.

On our first date cat man called for me at home. He walked past me, straight through my flat, and out into the garden. Maybe he thought I had a cat out there. I got into his car which was so old it didn’t have seatbelts, but was by no means classic or vintage (I insisted he upgraded when the time came for him to be transporting my most precious cargo around). We went for a drink in a lovely bar that had plastic garden type furniture. I wasn’t even halfway through my first drink when those lovely plastic chair legs gave way and I ended up on my back with my legs in the air struggling like an upside down tortoise. I was wearing a fairly short skirt as well at the time. And cat man? Cat man looked away, he was embarrassed! So he just remained catatonic while others looked on clearly thinking I was drunk as I managed to roll onto my side, get myself out of the chair and up on my feet.

All these things ladies are warning lights. I’m not sure why we insist on forging ahead through those red lights when we are young. It was something I stopped doing later in life, because when I learned love and respect for myself, nothing but the same in return would do.

Posted in comedy, Dating & Relationships, humour, women

How I Met My Husband – Whilst I Was On A Blind Date With Another Man

How I met my, now, ex-husband.

Having been on my own with my son for about 9 years I decided I’d give online dating a go. In those days, 2006, it wasn’t like Tinder, find a match and head out the door. Some men were happy to exchange multiple emails, followed up by lengthy phone calls until I decided I had sorted the wheat from the chaff. Some men weren’t, thought I was wasting their valuable dating time, but that helped me pop them onto the ‘wouldn’t touch with a barge pole’ pile.

I met my first date in a public place, in an area I felt happy there were enough people and escape routes should that become necessary. He turned up just putting out a fag, looking scruffier than his profile pic with earrings that there had been no mention of in our lengthy communications. Surprise surprise we dated for about 3 months. Never judge a book by its cover. I overlooked the fact he was in tens of thousands of pounds of debt (although that did strike him from the potential husband list) and that he had a tattoo of his daughter on his left breast. Most disconcerting. It was only when he stayed one weekend and couldn’t leave as he had been struck down with a serious case of man flu that I finally gave him the elbow. This was the result of finding out that he couldn’t go a few (extra) days without his weed!

The second fellow I had a few reservations about, but as I seemed to be hilariously funny in his eyes I couldn’t resist an evening of being that person. I met him in the same place as the last chap ( I wonder if the bouncers of the pub thought I was a lady of the night). I couldn’t have picked a busier environment to meet him as I’d forgotten it was a match day and Highbury was buzzing. I had an ace up my sleeve though, there was a pub that had a small garden/patio to the rear that no-one else seemed to know about.

We had just settled ourselves in the deserted garden when three chaps in football shirts piled in.  To be honest they looked a little old to be wearing football shirts, but as I said don’t judge a book by its cover (well, only in your head, never out loud). One of them was very drunk and they couldn’t have sat any nearer if they tried. Needless to say they joined in the conversation with us and somehow discovered we were on a blind, internet, date ( I say ‘somehow’, that’ll be me and my big mouth). So a jolly evening was had by all, some more than others.

I’m not sure, but I think when I stood up to leave is when it all went horribly wrong (ok, I am very sure).

  1. It is only when you stand up you realise you have been drinking like a football fan on a Saturday night
  2. It isn’t terribly ladylike to down your date’s leftover pint, even if you do try and suggest it’s wasteful and you’re helping the environment (How? I have no idea)
  3. If a man gives you his business card and says, “call me if it doesn’t work out”, when you’re on a date with someone else; DO NOT take it, put it in your bag and laugh all the way to the next pub.

You guessed it, I am guilty of all of the above. When we got outside the pub I could tell my date was none too pleased about what had just happened. The clue was when he said, “do you want me to go back in and have a word?”. I declined and hurried him along to the pub next to the tube station for one last drink (this is the point that if I went out more often I would know it was time to stop). We sat down before ordering drinks and I vaguely remember him almost right up in my face, I also vaguely remember that I may have been letting out a little spit when I was talking back to him. He went to the bar to get the drinks and that was the last I saw of him. I tried calling his mobile and it went straight to voicemail. The time eventually came when I realised he’d done a bunk. I went outside the pub and called the guy who’d given me his card to see if they were still about, he seemed nice, gentle and kind. He was on the train on his way home but we made a date for another time.

And that is how I met my (ex) husband.

Posted in comedy, humour

How Being Funny Saved My Bacon – What It Felt Like To Be An English Immigrant In The United Kingdom

The best thing about turning 50 is the amount of comedy material that generously lands in my lap. I’ve finally found my calling in life. Making people laugh by taking the piss out of myself. All those foibles and idiosyncrasies that Father Nature (Oh come on, it couldn’t possibly be a woman, could it?) hands out by the bucket load.

I’ve been on a bit of a roll writing about the menopause, middle age spread and heightened anxiety. Although something occurred to me the other day, what if I get better? I overcame a challenge with flying colours recently and I thought that that’s one less thing to be funny about. I’ll come to that one another time, but take my word for it, it was momentous.

I know I’m a funny lady because my Mum told me so. And I see the fruits of my labour on the face of the person I’m talking to as it contorts into the kind of expression reserved for private appearances only. That’s when you know you ARE bloody funny.

As a child my family moved around a great deal. This was very hard for my brother and I. Always the new kids on the block. The first day of school was like groundhog day for us. I recall on one occasion praying at night that I would wake up paralysed so that I wouldn’t have to endure being the new girl again.

Northern Ireland (NI) 1978 was a very bad time to be an English resident. Everywhere we went there were slogans screaming ‘Brits Out’, even cut out of the high mounds of snow piled up on the sides of the roads. The people of NI wanted the British Army to leave; bombing was at a peak; cars left unattended were taken away and destroyed in controlled explosions; soldiers with big guns patrolled the streets and we were searched in every shop we entered. If we got lost in the wrong area we were right to be scared with our English Registration plate.

My parents finally changed our car registration when my Mother was the target of makeshift missiles as she drove along the Falls Road in Belfast when Bobby Sands, member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army died on hunger strike in HM Prison Maze in 1981.

So, there I was, Little Miss English thrown into the Lion’s Den. Not the fault of the children, they learned from their parents that we/I was the enemy. I was 13 years of age, I could forgive the children, but not the teachers. It didn’t matter that I was of Irish descent, I was from the country that as far as they were concerned had stolen their land; I was an alien, an unwelcome immigrant.

This is when the humour really started to kick in. Not easy, but a necessity to survive. It’s awfully hard to kick someone’s head in when you are laughing so hard you almost wet your pants. I was talented and skilled at impersonations and accents. I knew the words and songs to every advertisement on the television. I could do all the voices, and Cilla Black was my pièce de résistance. Being funny and smart saved me from years of bullying.

I was saved from being bullied by the children, but not the teachers. I was in a school play just before we were about to make the move back to England. I played a Belfast woman, my accent was spot on. The next day the maths teacher commended me on my performance, the same teacher that would make me answer questions with the number eight in the answer because it sounded SO FUNNY. He said, “it’s a shame you are leaving just as we’re getting used to you”.

I learned how to judge and cater to my audience to save my backside. This is something that will live with me forever. Survival. Even if I am cured, I will always find the funny in everything. Being funny overcomes shyness, anxiety, bullying and insecurities. Laughter really is the best medicine, and nothing feels greater than being the one that makes it all happen.

 

Posted in comedy, humour, women

Making Sunday A Fun Day – When You’re Billy No Mates

I found myself at a bit of a loose end on Sunday; I thought I should do something completely different (usually Sunday afternoon is spent in the pub). I would learn how to survive a Sunday on my own, not just survive but enjoy, without the pub. I pulled on my skin tight jeans, threw on my white blouse and scrunched my hair up into a messy bun (in my dreams, that’s the stuff Jilly Cooper is made of. Two hours of face painting and a comb over before I’m ready to pull on my high waisted jeans and a top long enough to hide my muffin top).

I walked with a jaunty step (still in chick lit mode) feeling determined and liberated. I planned  to pick up the Sunday papers and take myself for brunch. I had it set in my head which paper I would buy, but it appears the early bird catches the worm on Sunday mornings, how was I to know, I’d never taken flight before 2pm.  I was in a  bit of a quandary as I couldn’t possibly give money to the papers that fund hate. I didn’t want the local paper, if I read that I may well never feel safe enough to leave the house again. I chose one that I wasn’t sure if it did or didn’t fund hate. Had a fair idea it didn’t.

Feeling terribly cosmopolitan I pootled along to the cafe, newspaper at the ready. My cosmopolitan, liberated, jaunty mood subsided slightly as all the windows were steamed up. I panicked in case I walked in and there wasn’t a spare table, everyone would be looking at me. I would be awkward and clumsy and no longer the woman I had dreamed of being. I had no idea how important it was to be able to see through windows before entering a premises.

Good fortune shone down on me and I settled myself into a corner table with my back to the wall.  I always sit with my back to the wall if I can. Last Saturday I gave up my ‘back to the wall’ seat so a man who wanted to watch the rugby more than I did could have a better view. I discovered I had the right idea all along, people insist on touching your hair and stuff when you allow yourself to sit within arm’s reach of passers by. As another aside I did say to aforementioned man, “What the hell are you doing on your phone when I gave up my seat so you could get a better view!”.

I digress. I took out the magazine supplement, I thought that was the safest bet as it would be awfully inconvenient to gather up a sprawled out broadsheet when my decaf tea and veggie all day breakfast arrived. I observed the other patrons and made some notes. I was surrounded by young families and couples. I convinced myself that that didn’t make me jealous or lonely as:

  1. You could stay at home eating breakfast and staring at your phones.
  2. I’m an independent woman of age, happy with my own company.
  3. I don’t have to sit trying to make conversation until the food arrives.

Going out for brunch seems to be a ‘thing’ these days. I get embarrassed if I say I’ve been out for brunch. When I say ‘breakfast’ they look at the time and correct me, “don’t you mean brunch?” What is this fascination with joining two words to make a whole other new word. Brexit. Guesstimate. Brangelina. Chillax. The only good thing about it is the word that describes that process. Portmanteau, beautiful word. I was only there for Breakfast Lunch because I didn’t have any food in the fridge and I was too hungry to go shopping and then go home and prepare it.

I’m lucky really, despite my idiosyncrasies*, that I do have the confidence to walk into a bar or cafe on my own. A good job really, if I didn’t I could spend days never seeing or talking to another human being. The moral of my story, if there is one; don’t get stuck in a rut. Even if you do the same thing everyday, try and do it differently. You’d be surprised how something as simple as having a pot of tea instead of a  teabag in the mug can lift your spirits. Carpe Diem!

*a fairly nice way to describe someone who is frankly a bit odd with a bucketful of anxieties.