Category Archives: lists

10 Things I Think I Know About Canadians and Canada

As you all know, I am England’s biggest expert on Americans and America. I am. So isn’t it strange that I’m virtually clueless about Canada? This, to me, would indicate that Canadians need to try harder with promoting their country. In order to demonstrate to them how much harder they need to try, I am going to list ten things I know about Canadians and Canada, off the top of my head. I won’t Google, I won’t cheat in any way… Let’s go:

1) Canadians sell chocolate at the airport. I know this because we stopped at a Canadian airport once (for an hour) on the way to America – and I bought some chocolate.

2) Canadians have guns. But unlike Americans they never shoot anyone.

3) Canadians never lock their doors. I think I’m getting these ideas from Michael Moore.

4) Canadians like Ice Hockey. So do I! But here in the UK, that makes me a freak.

5) Alanis Morissette is Canadian. She probably thinks that is somehow “ironic”.

6) It snows in Canada. But that’s OK, because Canadians are prepared for snow. I feel guilty because this list is making Canadians sound a bit boring. I’m sure they are just “differently interesting” really.

7) Canadians usually have a moose head on the wall. See? Not boring.

8) Canadians say “aboot”. But other than that they just sound like Americans with the volume turned down.

9) Canadians eat “poutine”. I have no idea what it is though. I’m not going to Google it, I’ve come this far without cheating. Most national dishes are famous for more than just the name! Why don’t I know what this is?

10) Canadians want to be British (yay!) or French (boo!). Basically they’re happy to be seen as anything other than American. Or Canadian.

And that’s just aboot all I know aboot Canada and Canadians. Oh wait, I know Mounties “always get their man”. Whatever.

CANADIANS: I’ve met some of you and I love you but MAKE YOUR DAMN MARK! Don’t let America leave you to play the part that New Zealand plays, to the mouthy Australians. Don’t be the same as Belgium is, compared to France. Let’s take the “O” out of “O Canada” and replace it with a “Hell YEAH!”.


Unpredictable Things That Make My Flesh Crawl

In a moment of masochism, I decided to write about the things that make my flesh crawl. Not things like vomit or blood, not “Jackass” type things… Just things that other people probably wouldn’t guess could turn me off so badly. Or something. Anyway, here they are:

1) Women dressed as men. By this I do NOT mean women wearing trousers, women wearing ties, or even butch lesbians with suits and crew-cuts. Or even bona-fide, pre-op transsexuals. I mean “normal” women wearing fake moustaches. Oh My God. I’m sure I’ve seen Lucille Ball, or somebody, dressed as Charlie Chaplin… Ughhhh, I can hardly type I’m cringing so badly. And didn’t Kim Basinger dress as a man, with a fake moustache, in “9 1/2 Weeks”? *shiver*. Fake beards, fake sideburns, ugh. Any type of fake facial hair on a woman is just revolting. Especially if she is otherwise feminine and even wearing lipstick. Yuck.

2) Electronic “voices” in music. Like when Cher goes “One more time”. Noooo, no more times PLEASE! I think Herbie Hancock used a “Vocoder”, or so I’m told, to pollute his music with “Is it a guitar talking?” effects. I know I’ve heard others. Ewwww! WHY am I doing this to myself? I feel sick just thinking about it! I think I’ve got this revulsion because I heard “Sparky’s Magic Piano” too much, as a child. Damn near shit my pants every time it came on the radio. That is one evil record.

3) Old people rapping. You must have seen it, on kids’ TV shows that try to be “hip” with an older character, or maybe on a show where the host decides to be “cool”… Somebody kill me. Old people should do anything they enjoy, hang-gliding, bondage, line dancing, anything. Anything but child-molesting and rapping. Please.

4) Scat. No, not playing with poo – I can handle hearing about that, even if it isn’t my bag. No, I mean SCAT as in some pillock standing with a Jazz band going “Wee do be do bop, hee shoe be shoo wop. Babba dee babbadee WOO!”, like the most irritating, disgusting “Blogmella, please come and punch me in the face” loser on the entire planet. I officially feel like I’m going to blow chunks now but I must be brave…Let’s go on…

5) Men in V neck sweaters, with no shirt or T-shirt underneath. No. Please. As an example – Michael Douglas in “Romancing the Stone”, when he dances with Kathleen Turner, in “Disco Dad” stylee. And he has a horrible thin sweater with nothing under it but his chafing nipples and the impending possibility of a spark igniting the nylon fabric, as his chest hair becomes statically charged. I sat watching between my fingers saying “Tell me when this bit is over…”. I swear, it was making me ill. And all the time that V showed us that there was nothing underneath. Ewwww!

6) “The Scent Of A Woman”. Possibly the most off-putting film ever made. I HATE Al Pacino now. I couldn’t sleep with him for a million pounds. Every time he said “Hoo haa!”… ARRGGHHHH. My Granddad was blind, I have nothing against blind people but that film was about the most creepy weirdo I’ve ever seen. Must Not Vomit On Keyboard.

7) Pillow fights. I don’t mind the idea of people hitting each other with pillows, that’s allowed – UNLESS THE PILLOWS HAVE FEATHERS IN THEM. How could ANYONE risk the pillow splitting and the air filling with FEATHERS?! And they do it in film and on TV, like it’s just normal, or like it’s funny or romantic. It is utterly disgusting. Imagine feathers going into your nose or mouth…Oh lord, I’ve never typed an entry where I suffered so much just THINKING about the subject matter. Ugh.

8) Gospel Rock. Starts out OK, lulls you into a false sense of security and then has some cheesy, unnerving chorus about Jesus. The first time it happens it is almost FUNNY it’s so bad. But after that the full horror sets in and I realize that ANY God related rock tune could be played to me in Room 101 and be assured to have the desired effect. “Why should the Devil have all the best tunes?” is a stupid question, that we could apply to drugs, whisky, or hookers. There are plenty of perfectly good hymns about Jesus, go to Church and sing them. Gospel Rock is the spiritual rapist of the music world, getting you to groove along for a bit and then slipping Christ into you when you least expected Him. Creepy. And enough to turn you Atheist forever.

OK, I’ve had enough. I need a cup of tea. Do you have any weird turn-offs?

EDIT: And now my BOYFRIEND is slagging me off in his journal, just because I’m not a fan of ugliness!

10 Reasons I Enjoy Going To Church (On Top Of The Obvious God And Jesus Ones)

Getting up early every Sunday morning may sound like a bit of a chore but, so far, I enjoy going to Church and find it worth the effort. I’m not going to bang on about God and Jesus specifically – you will have your own beliefs and frankly I’m still not sure about how to describe mine. I can, however, list some of the reasons that I find attending Church a positive thing to do, beyond the undoubtable spiritual benefits and comfort it gives me:

1) Getting ready: I don’t have many “smart” clothes (especially since I’ve lost a lot of weight) but I still manage to look “dressed up” (for me) on most Sundays.  I used to go to Church in jeans and a T-shirt but now I quite like making an effort to look nice – I even iron my blouse!

2) Walking to Church: I really like walking to Church, because everywhere is quite and peaceful. I often see other dressed up people, and I know they are going to their Churches (or mine) too. That makes me smile. I don’t know whether to thank God or pollution, but I’ve been very lucky with the weather, on Church mornings.

3) Holy Water: The whole idea of Holy Water really appeals to me and the Anglican Church are right up there with the Catholics, when it comes to using it. It is awesome – it kills vampires, it frightens off demons and it purifies us, or something. I love the little stoup of water that we cross ourselves with, before entering the Church. Sometimes the Priest flicks Holy Water over us during the service and I struggle to decide how long it is polite to wait, before cleaning it off the lenses of my glasses.

4) Crossing myself: I like doing this but I had to learn how. I’m left-handed and I’m suspicious that the first few times I did it I was summoning the Devil by mistake. Not only does crossing myself make me feel Holy, it also makes me feel like I’m in a film, or I’m a Nun, or I’m a competitive sports legend.

5) The Church interior and stained-glass windows: Our Church is really old and traditional and beautiful. I love that.

6) The service: The Anglican Church put on a really good service. Loads of ornate things to say and reply, lots of standing up and down – and more songs than the Eurovision Song Contest. Brilliant. And I like the whole “Peace be with you” bit, where we go around shaking hands with everyone – I deliberately choose grumpy old people, and disruptive little kids.

7) The sermon:  I have, so far, never been bored by a sermon. What more can I say? I love it when the Priest (or whoever) goes, “Yesterday I was mowing my lawn and it suddenly struck me that a lawn mower is very much like Jesus…”. Hilarious. Every sermon I’ve heard has been thought-provoking and intelligent though.

8) Holy Communion: I’m still not Confirmed but I like going up for a Blessing.

9) The wine/tea/cakes: Staying after Church, sharing refreshments and chatting, is great fun. We have had a celebration of some kind almost every week though and that means glasses of wine BEFORE lunch. I must say, the only times I have been tipsy, since Christmas, can all be blamed on drinking after Church, in the Church building. Scandalous.

10) The walk home: I like walking home from Church, looking fine, full of the Holy Spirit and possibly with a nice little boozy buzz on. I like seeing how the streets have got busy and I stop off at the Asda to buy milk and cat food.

 Going to Church is well worth the effort.

10 Good Reasons To Have Children

1) You Become An Adult: This is probably the best reason to become a parent… You’ll finally have to really grow up. Once you are a parent you can no longer allow yourself to be afraid of the dark, afraid of bees, drunk every night, or going without food in the house, “Because I bought a new Xbox game”. You mature, you think things through, you get over yourself… Because you now have some perspective. Usually.

2) Reproducing Your Genes: Let’s face it, once you’ve managed to meet the partner of your dreams and you’ve built a little home together, having a child is the logical next step. If you are worried about the environment, concerned about overpopulation and questioning the future of the planet…You are exactly the sort of person who should be breeding. God knows there are enough idiots doing it, and they have to be counter-balanced.

3) Buying Their Clothes: Tiny little baby clothes. Cute kids’ clothes. Cool, hardcore, kickass, teenage fashion (or alternative clothing). All great fun to buy, but they won’t fit you in middle-age… Or even if they will, you’ll look embarrassing. Kids are your ticket into the shops that you can’t normally shop in and it’s great fun to choose clothes without reference to your own fat belly. Mind you, it doesn’t always work – Brandon wanted to buy a horrible, chavvy, pastel-coloured polo shirt last week. I was all, “Get this T shirt! It’s BLACK with skulls on!” but he refused to entertain the idea. Damn.

4) Sharing Their Toys: I don’t need to explain.

5) You Can Use Them As An Excuse: “Oh I’d love to come and help you move house but Brandon has a temperature and he feels sick”. Or, ” I’ll have to get off the phone now Mum, Little Johnny has his head stuck in the bannister”. Perfect.

6) Retribution Is Yours: Ever been in a restaurant and seen kids running wild and throwing food? It’s SO frustrating that you can’t shout at them or hit them. However, if they are your own kids…You CAN! And everyone will applaud you for it.

7) Explaining Sex: Some people think this is a HARD part of parenting. Personally I loved it. Especially when one of my sons (naming no names) told me that masturbating sounded “disgusting” and that he thought he probably wouldn’t take it up. HAHAHAHA!

8) Telling Lies: If you lie to your friends and colleagues, you end up being put in a mental home. But with your kids, you can say anything you like. And better still, they believe you! Mine thought I was a secret agent, a magician, German and (at one point) their adoptive Mother. Of course, you have to tell them the truth after a couple of years.

9) Watching Children’s TV: Everybody knows that some of the best shows on TV are aimed at children but if you don’t have kids you have no excuse to watch them. Or maybe you just won’t notice them. Without Brandon, I would not have seen Pingu, for example.

10) Securing Your Future Care: Even at the exact moment that you are wiping your kids’ arses, you know in your heart that one day they will be doing the same for you. Or paying someone else to do it. And what boy can resist digging his old Mum’s garden? Or mending her roof?

40 Amazing Random Facts About Me

Here is a list of amazing, fascinating and possibly sometimes disturbing, facts about me. In no particular order:

  1. I have absolutely no sense of smell.
  2. I once had a huge Bartholin’s cyst, in my vagina. The operation that cured it was called a marsupialisation. I was seven months pregnant at the time.
  3. I am allergic to courgettes (zucchini).
  4. I used to rescue unwanted and abandoned pet rats. Sadly, I have cats now (also rescues).
  5. I can ski, if a little slowly.
  6. I can crew a yacht and a catamaran.
  7. I can’t drive though.
  8. My boyfriend is only two months older than my oldest son.
  9. I can spread my toes like an ape.
  10. My Dad was cremated wearing a Victorian costume.
  11. I once levitated, in front of a very religious old Greek lady – and she started crossing herself , in horror.
  12. As a child I slept almost motionless, because I was afraid that the teddies in my bed would get suffocated.
  13. I could read before I started school.
  14. I survived a hideous car crash (in Florida), with minor injuries. People who came to help us thought we would be dead.
  15. The first baby I gave birth to weighed ten pounds.
  16. I have “double-jointed” fingers.
  17. I’ve performed stand-up comedy at about 80 gigs.
  18. I once held a man’s hand while he died.
  19. I lost my virginity, aged 21, on my (first) wedding night.
  20. When I was 12, I secretly sprinkled itching powder on my Maths teacher’s head. It didn’t work though.
  21. Despite dating a few hippies, I have never tried a single illegal drug.
  22. I once slid 100 yards along an icy road on my arse, along with my (crashed) moped.
  23. I have never had sex with anyone older than me.
  24. I have climbed several (small) mountains and some sea cliffs.
  25. As an adult, my weight has fluctuated by about 60 pounds, over the years.
  26. BBC Radio 4 once paid me to talk about the Oscars.
  27. One night, I had to change into a nurse’s uniform (for a comedy gig) in a tiny dressing room – full of male comedians, who were all reading pornographic magazines.
  28. I am partly Jewish, partly Irish and I think there is a hint of Gypsy in my past too. All of these “parts” are quite far back though.
  29. I know how to change a colostomy bag and have, several times.
  30. My first son talked very early and by two and a half years old, I had taught him the art of sarcasm.
  31. I have owned two dogs but I have NEVER been able to control one. Dogs laugh in my face, because I am too nice. I win though, because they’re both dead now.
  32. I am left-handed, left-footed, my left tit is bigger than the right one and my left armpit gets hairier.
  33. At school, I failed my Cycling Proficiency Test. Twice.
  34. I spent six months as a vegetarian, in the year 2000.
  35. I used to be a practicing Buddhist.
  36. I have flawless control over my gag reflex.
  37. One of the best weeks of my life was spent snowed-in, at home, with an open fire.
  38. All three of my sons are tall, good-looking and funny (thanks to me).
  39. I went to London, on the day of Princess Diana’s funeral. I watched the procession and then the service, on the screens in Hyde Park.
  40. I have no sisters and one (younger) brother who couldn’t be more different to me if he tried.

Things Other People Do That Impress Me

“That don’t impress me much!” sang Shania Twain, in her irritating 90s hit, of the same name. Well, I’m no Shania Twain (thank goodness) but I must admit, impressing me is a bit of a hit and miss affair too. You could win a gold medal at the Olympics for the High Jump and I’d forget your name (unless you lived next door to me, or something). On the other hand, you could do one of the following things and I’d be open-mouthed with admiration:

1) Being An Expert. I’m hugely impressed when somebody is an actual “expert” on something, even if it is just something useless like Star Wars. In fact especially if it is something useless, for some reason. I like it when people have the attention span to apply themselves to things and to remember stuff. I sit entranced when people start reeling off loads of facts, because I have a terrible memory myself and a mind that roves around looking for something else to be distracted by all the time.

2) Being Tidy. How do people DO that? I long to live in a stark white minimalist void…Or even just to have “a place for everything and everything in its place” but somehow I can’t pull it off. I mean I DO have a place for everything but that place is called “right next to where I am, when I want to put it down”. And the other place is called “the floor”.

3) Being Hospitable. It’s great when people say “Come round now if you like! We’ll open a bottle of wine and rustle up a meal!”. I’m SO stunned that they can do that. Despite the fact that any of my friends are welcome to come to my house IN AN EMERGENCY (even an emotional one), people are very unlikely to be invited otherwise. Sometimes I blame the untidiness but I think I might do the untidy thing on purpose in fact… To keep them away and to give me an excuse NOT to invite them. I’m warmly and lovingly sociable away from home but if you visit I’ll probably be uneasy and counting the minutes until you leave. Seriously, I’m horrible. You probably won’t get offered more than one cup of tea either – I just forget.

4) Being Able To Mend Things. Actually I AM pretty good at mending things myself… But people who can mend big things like cars impress the hell out of me. Mostly because they are men. Heh.

5) Using Cling-Film, Without Swearing. How on EARTH do people manage to do this? When I use cling-film, it refuses to “cling” to anything but itself. It won’t tear, so I have to develop a third hand, to hold scissors (which don’t work anyway). It comes off the roll in a strip that isn’t the entire width and then gets narrower and narrower, leaving an increasing amount behind, in a diagonal. By the time I have finished, the roll is f*cked, my nerves are shattered and the food is protected by some kind of tattered, baggy imitation of what cling-film ought to be.

6) Playing FPS games, on Xbox. Aren’t people who can do this, clever? Many, many times my son has demonstrated this ability to me – but try as I might, I am totally incapable of controlling my character in a “First Person Shooter” game. I hold my gun and try to walk – but before I know it, I’m aiming at the sky and rotating slowly, until one of my son’s friends sneaks up and shoots me. Poor Brandon, “Stop teabagging my Mum!” is a cry no child should ever have to utter.

7) Being Quiet. How the Hell do quiet people keep quiet? I never stop talking, I have an opinion on everything and I crack jokes and I drive people mad. I’d love to SHUT UP for the sake of those around me but it isn’t any fun, so it isn’t going to happen. I’m really impressed by people who keep their own counsel though and I’m sure that they are cleverer than me.

8) Being Able To Cook. I love it when somebody can create delicious, hearty food and share it with others. Such skill. My meals however come in three types, “Cooked in the microwave, straight from the freezer”, What shall we order?” and “OMFG what IS this?!”. I can fry bacon and eggs though.

9) Looking After House-Plants. I look in awe when people have homes full of beautiful plants. Plants tremble at the mention of my name. Any plant that enters my home should start living every day as thought it were its last.  

10) Looking Good In Charity Shop (Thrift Store?) Clothes. “I got it for fifty pence!” says my friend, when I admire her trendy little cardigan, “isn’t it unique?!”. Yes, it IS. But when I buy clothes in the Oxfam Shop, I look like a crazed cat-lady, a refugee, a throwback to the 80s, or a tall old-age pensioner. What I’m trying to say is, I look like I’m wearing a 50p cardigan.

What impresses you, that YOU can’t or don’t do?

Six Ways To Improve Life

Recently I have been pondering on how to improve my life. I’m not terribly unhappy but I do think my stress levels are high, considering that I don’t have a job and my only child (at home) is very easy-going. I feel as though there are some things I need more of, in order to be happy. Luckily, they are not the kind of things that you need a lot of money to buy.

Anyway, here is my wish list, for you to share and consider.

I want more:

Space – I think one of the best ways to clear your head and start relaxing, is to clear away the clutter from your home. Most people can recover extra space by selecting a few boxes of junk to throw out, give to charity, or sell. Our house isn’t big but, even so, a good clear out and tidy up makes it feel much nicer and more roomy. I need to “Spring clean” and do this. More space, more light, more oxygen, less stress.

Silence – These days we have all become addicted to living with constant noise. The TV chatters away in the background as we eat, read, or try to relax. We listen to music in the car, in supermarkets – we don’t even walk down the street, or sit on the bus, without listening to an MP3 Player. I am going to find more time for silence in my life, or at least as near to silence as I can get. I am going to enjoy peace and quiet, by turning the noise off  for a change and just letting my brain unscramble. I’m am going to avoid over-stimulation and find chances for silent relaxation.

Spirituality – The world has never been in more need of clear answers and guidance. We are not short of religions and “alternative” paths to follow but sometimes the sheer number of choices seems to block us from even starting a spiritual journey. The older I get, the more my “existential angst” and confusion about religion grow. I have practiced Buddhism in the past and it makes a great deal of sense to me but my local Buddhist Centre is run by a movement that I consider a cult, so I won’t go there. The Dalai Lama (in his book The Four Noble Truths) suggests that any of the major religions is fine and that sometimes it is better to just follow a religion close to your own culture. (Bless him – I can’t imagine the Pope saying that!). So, I am going to attend Church for a while, I’ve found one that interests me locally and I am going to start meditating (or praying?) more often. I hope it will improve my life, I certainly feel I need it.

Sleep – TV, Xbox, DVDs, the Internet… Nowadays we have many, many enticing things to stay awake for. And we are grown-ups now, so no one can tell us we have to go to bed, right? But sleep is really important and being well-rested is a great feeling. Also, looking tired means looking OLDER and nobody needs that. I have decided to get more sleep. I’m going to go to bed earlier, snuggle up for some cosy reading and then get some hardcore sleeping done. I’m 52 and I get up at 6:30am (to get Brandon off to school) so WHY have I been going to bed at 2am? It has to stop. Sleep is the new staying up.

Simplicity – There are so many gadgets, gizmos and inventions available today that every task has become overly complicated. The idea of simplicity has been lost – but I’m going to reclaim it. Occam didn’t use a battery-operated, waterproof epilator to shave his legs, and nor will I. Some of the most relaxing moments of my life have been during camping trips, when I had practically nothing but a knife, my wits and a cigarette lighter to get me through. There is a lesson there for all of us.

Solitude – The concept of spending time alone is one that often makes people uncomfortable. We tell ourselves that we are indispensable. We feel guilty if we turn off the phone. Sometimes we just plain old don’t like our own company. I’ve avoided solitude for all these reasons and more – but that is going to change. I’ve decided that I need time to be by myself, that I will be happier and more sane if I’m not “on call” 24 hours a day. I want to light candles and soak in the bath, with a great big notice on the door BANNING anyone from talking to me. Of all my ideas this is probably my biggest challenge but I think I’ll do it anyway.

Thanks for reading. I’m off for that bath now.