Google
 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Tips To Get You Through Christmas

Around My Kitchen Table
DON'T worry, it will soon be over – the family fights, the tantrums, the crocodile tears and the melodrama.

Yes, that’s the EastEnders Christmas special done for another year.

I hope the rest of us are well on the way to preparing for a joyous occasion. And to make the festive season go without a hitch, I have some tips to avoid the Christmas pitfalls.

  • Be sparing with the red food colouring, otherwise your Christmas nibbles will look like you’ve accidentally sliced open an artery while cooking.
  • Do not blindly follow last year’s Christmas card list. A certain percentage will have died, divorced, had a sex change or moved to Timbuktu, probably to get away from Christmas.
  • Never do those Christmas quizzes which ask for things like your month of birth and the first letter of your name so they can ascertain your “Christmas fairy” name – not unless you want to be called Sparkly Knickers for the rest of your life by your young niece.
  • Always leave your Christmas lights carefully wrapped around cardboard to avoid hours of frustration and rage as you try to untangle them, only to find three hours and a bucket of tears later they don’t work because one of the hundred bulbs has blown.

  • Wrap up a box of chocolates so that if someone you weren’t expecting turns up with a present you can quickly write on the tag and give it to them, as if they were on your mind all the time. Make sure it’s chocolates you particularly like yourself so that if they’re not needed you can eat them after Christmas. Actually, better be on the safe side and wrap up two boxes of chocolates, plus a couple of bottles of red wine and maybe some nice perfume and that scarf from M&S you’ve had your eye on for a while.

  •  Do not offer to make Christmas decorations with children under the age of 10. By the time you’ve finished with all that glue, glitter and tinsel you will look like Liberace’s doppelganger. 
  • Don’t believe parents when they tell you their children are “just as happy playing with a cardboard box as the present inside”. I can assure you, you will get some very sideways looks if all you give their child is the old box your Amazon books came in. There’s just no pleasing some people.
  • Gentlemen, do not buy your wife any kitchen appliance, “sexy” red underwear that’s too risque for a burlesque dancer or a woolly bed jacket that’s too boring for your granny, or a box set of Top Gear DVDs, a car-cleaning kit, any book by a super-model that tells you how they lost two stone in a week, or a Black and Decker drill – not unless she has expressly requested such a gift or you don't mind said gift being inserted into an orifice.
  • Remember, just because that liqueur tastes like melted toffee swooshed around in cream, it still contains alcohol. A few glasses before cooking dinner is not recommended – as I found out one year when it was my turn to host Christmas dinner. Since then we have always eaten at my sister’s house, but I’m sure that’s a coincidence. Probably.

  • Don’t forget to say well done to ALL the children in the nativity play, even though your nephew, Third Shepherd From The Right (the one with the crooked tea towel on his head kicking the child next to him) was the best by a country mile.
  • Disconnect the front door bell so that if unwanted in-laws turn up, you can pretend you haven’t heard them.
  • And finally, sweep the chimney, hang up your stocking and wait for Santa to bring you everything you have ever wished for.



Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Spelling It Out

Around My Kitchen Table








PEOPLE think I'm a grammar and spelling Nazi, but I'm not. I couldn't care less if you don't know the difference between your and you're or its and it's - unless it's (not its) your (not you're) job to know.

The dearly beloved is a cabinet-maker. He's not brilliant at spelling but then, I couldn't knock up a beautiful Welsh dresser if you gave me all the state-of-the-art tools in the world and a year to finish it. Each to his own.

However… if you're (not your) a person who makes their (not there) living with the written word then you should be able to spell the damn word. It's a part of the skill-set. I don't expect a brain surgeon to tell me they are  darn good at their job, well, apart from the slight matter of suffering from Parkinson's.

I don't want my bankers to be innumerate, my roofer to be afraid of heights or my gardener to be allergic to plants.

This principle doesn't seem to hold true in the world of the media. I can forgive the odd error - it might just be a typo and we all make mistakes when we're rushed or tired. But some of the media is littered with ungrammatical, badly spelled articles and postings. Even the Daily Mail website was wittering on about Jada Pinkett Smith getting a "desert" thrown in her face on a TV show. Which desert would that be; the Sahara, the Gobi, the Kalahari?

Don't even get me started on the BBC. Their captions are so littered with errors that I spend half my time screaming at the TV while the dearly beloved searches frantically for his ear plugs.

So what has brought on this rant? There is, as I write, someone on the Linkedin website who is advertising their services as an EDITER. I go to the foot of our stairs.


Bookmark and Share

Friday, 19 September 2014

Pat's Ice Bucket Challenge

Around My Kitchen Table













I have been nominated for the ice bucket challenge. It'll be tough. But here goes...

First get your bucket.




Find some ice in the deep freeze. I will probably need a few of these.




Then put ice in bucket.



So far, so good. Now for a tricky bit...have to get this just right.



Here it comes!



Well. That wasn't quite so hard as I was expecting. Don't know what all the fuss is about.


£20 has been donated to  Motor Neurone Disease


Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Things That Have Annoyed Me This Week


Around My Kitchen Table











SEVERAL of my Facebook  friends have been doing that exercise where you count three blessings a day for five days. It doesn't hurt to sit down and realise how blessed  you are. I know how lucky I am to have a great man (even if he's not perfect, see below), brilliant family (if slightly barking) and lovely work colleagues (slightly barking too). And I'm healthy (mostly), wealthy (compared to 90% of the world, if not to Bill Gates) and wise (yes, I did say, wise).

However...sometimes petty annoyances jump up and bite me on the bum.

Things that have annoyed me this week:

1 The dearly beloved is, as I may have mentioned before, the untidiest man in the world. People don't quite believe me when I try to explain just how untidy he is. But now I have proof. I bought a nice big box of PG Tips which I should have put in the larder immediately but foolishly left on the worktop. When I got home he had opened the box. A normal person would have removed the cellophane and run their thumb along the perforations to make a nice flap which you could close again. But not the DB, oh no. This is how the box looked when he'd finished with it.


I rest my case.

2 My annoyances seem to be of my own making because, secondly, I stupidly filled in a Conservative party online questionnaire. I thought I may as well make my views known on a variety of subjects, more in hope than expectation.  But since then I have been inundated with emails from Grant Shapps, Philip Hammond, Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and Boris Johnson all seeking my support on a variety of Tory policies. GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE.

3 I had to phone the Inland Revenue this week about my tax code. After all that "press 1 for this, press 2 for that malarkey,  I was put on hold on a loop  - music, message ("thank you for waiting, one of our advisors will be with you as soon as possible"), music, message, music, message, music, message for what seemed like an eternity. I'm using the word "music" quite loosely. Its plinky plonkiness was so abysmal that I wanted to tear my ears off and transplant them on to a mouse.  Must admit, though, when I finally got through, it was fine with my query dealt with efficiently and quickly.

4 Even though my drive to work is along an A road, it is winding and rural with very few places where it is safe to overtake. I'm fairly patient behind farm vehicles because I know they will soon turn off  but this week I got stuck behind an old Ford Escort. My heart sinks whenever I arrive behind a car and all you can see are  two fluffy white  heads barely peeking above the seats. It's a tricky road and you have to be careful BUT THAT'S NO REASON TO DRIVE AT 20mph AROUND THE BENDS AND BARELY SPEED UP ALONG THE STRAIGHTISH BITS. Then, blow me down, when they finally reached a stretch of road where it was possible to overtake, the driver suddenly found his accelerator and hared along at the rate of knots, before braking violently and taking the next bend at 20mph.

There are several other annoyances I could mention, but I'll leave those for another day.

Goodbye, and don't forget to count your blessings.



Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb




TODAY, around my kitchen table (my mother's kitchen table, actually, but we won't quibble) we were talking rhubarb.

I don't mean we were all extras in the background of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes pretending to talk to each other - although to look at us, we could have been - but we were discussing that love-it-or-hate-it garden staple.

It's a truth, universally acknowledged in my family, that a single woman who comes knocking on my mother's door is in want of rhubarb (little literary reference there as the better-read among you will no doubt recognise).

She tries to foist sticks of rhubarb on unsuspecting visitors. I'm wise to her tricks now and refuse to accept any unless it is cooked, covered with pastry or crumble with a jug of custard beside it.

However, today I was reminded by my sister of the time I succumbed to her blandishments and took home a bundle of rhubarb.

Now, cooking is not my forte. In fact, anything that is at all practical and useful is not my forte. If you want a stiffly-worded letter written to a utility firm, I'm you're man, but don't ask me to look after your house plants while you're on holiday. Not unless you want to come home to plant carnage.

Mother wittered on about putting some bicarb in when cooking the rhubarb as it will soften it - so I did.

I made a very tasty crumble and the dearly beloved devoured it. He even had second helpings and possibly later that day, thirds.

Some time later my mother asked him if he liked rhubarb and he said he did - but unfortunately it gave him the shits.

Ah.

When we were alone my mother asked me how much bicarb I had put in the crumble.

How was I to know she had told me to add a "pinch". What the hell is a "pinch" anyway? I can't remember exactly how much bicarb I had added but it was more than a heaped teaspoon but less than a heaped dessert spoon. That would do it, said my mother while shaking her head in despair.

To this day, the dearly beloved has no idea why the rhubarb had such a bad effect on his internal workings and I'm not going to tell him now. All healthy relationships have their little secrets. Don't they?





Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Motivational Quotes


IF you spend very long on Facebook and Twitter, people will soon start sending you motivational sayings. I don't mind most of them - a metaphorical kick up the bum is sometimes appropriate. If Einstein has a bit of advice for you, it would be churlish not to at least cast an eye over it.

Sometimes they seem like good advice, but read them carefully. Are they really true? How about "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger"? Try being inspired by that when you're in a persistent vegetative state.

Here's one that a Twitter follower posted last week:  “Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

Yeah, but I bet Michaelangelo didn't have to shower, load the washing machine, tidy up, feed the cat, make two packed lunches, get breakfast, put his make-up on and drive to work before he even aimed one paint-loaded brush at that Sistine Chapel ceiling.

When it comes to realistic advice, I'm more of a Homer Simpson fan. Here are two that will stand anybody in good stead for dealing with life:

1.  “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.”

2. "The code of the schoolyard, Marge! The rules that teach a boy to be a man. Let's see. Don't tattle. Always make fun of those different from you. Never say anything, unless you're sure everyone feels exactly the same way you do."

I'm joking, of course. Kind of.  You may laugh, but Homer's quotes are often as insightful as many a homily from a celebrity. Here's Kanye West talking about reincarnation:  “I won’t go into a big spiel about reincarnation, but the first time I was in the Gucci store in Chicago was the closest I’ve ever felt to home.”

Crikey. What was he in a previous life? A handbag?

Here's a good quote from Bruce Lee:


Mind you, he did die at the age of 32...

And here's one from singer Adele:


You can't argue with that.



Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Pay Day Loans

Pay day loans firm Wonga allegedly chased debtors with letters from fake solicitors.

I had a letter the other day on behalf of loan company Dosha. I enclose it here. Do you think it's genuine?




Bookmark and Share