2010 is just around the corner...

Yes, it's that time of year again... an old year out and a new one in.  A time for resolutions (whether we keep to them or not), a time for reflection, a time for new beginnings - everyone does it.  But I have a more burning question:


Do you say "Twenty Ten"
Do you say "Two Thousand And Ten"

Which is right and which is wrong, what will you be saying and will one annoy you more than the other?


A Lottery Win?

She sat on her faded, aged settee, clutching the crumpled lottery ticket, not daring to let it out of her sight.  She’d chosen the numbers carefully – not the usual birthdays and anniversaries but numbers that she thought would be lucky.  It was 7.30pm on a Saturday and the usual rituals of evening meal, washing up and the pouring of a glass of wine had been conducted.  She was trying to stay calm but she always got jittery at the same time, every week.  Her mind was full of ‘What if’s...’ and she almost couldn’t bear the tension but she knew that was part of her enjoyment of the weekly ritual... or torture, whichever way you looked at it.

At 8.05pm the familiar theme tune struck up, the blue logo and the red writing to which she had become so accustomed flew into view on the television screen and she could feel the excitement and tension building.

As the host of the quiz show (used to pad out the 30-second draw into a hour-long show) appeared she tutted and shuffled in her chair.  More time to wait!  But she felt that she couldn’t complain as the children enjoyed this bit, mainly because they had a one-in-four chance of getting the answer right thanks to the answers appearing on screen.   And of course, they tolerated her little indulgence each week. 

The crack of a can of lager opening to her right hand side made her jump slightly and she glanced over to her husband, sat in his usual chair, relaxing with his drink, waiting, uncomplainingly until the children had gone to bed, when they could snuggle together on the settee with a bootleg copy of a recent film from his “hush-hush-wink-wink-say-no-more-it’s-cheap” mate at work.  The jolt back to reality prompted her to look around her cosy lounge and appreciate what she already had... a roof over her head, happy, well-fed children, a loving husband... but she had her dreams.  She was allowed, wasn’t she?

A drum roll pounded out of the speakers of the television, a pretty, young, blonde female presenter stepped in front of the camera and proceeded to speak to a body-less voice who was known as “The Voice Of The Balls”.  The usual banter about independent adjudicators and random machine selection took place and the weekly call of “Ssssshhhhhh” reverberated around the lounge. 

She checked her ticket one more time and then kept her eyes glued to the television screen.

The first ball dropped into view...
The second ball dropped into view...
The third, the fourth and the fifth...
Then the sixth...

She looked at her ticket.  Her family turned and looked at her.  She looked up and shook her head and they all heaved a sigh of relief.

Another week without a win.  She’d proved, once again, that she didn’t need to win the lottery to be happy and she tucked the two-year-old ticket back into her purse ready for the following week.

Today I become the grandparent to a 1 year old child...

... so can someone please tell me where the last year went?

I mentioned the fact that my daughter had a baby last year in this blog; and how proud I am of how she's managed becoming a parent at such a young age.  Today, that baby is 1 year old!!! 

Many battles have been fought during the last year - my daughter has flown the nest (again) to live in her own house, moved to another house, found out she is pregnant again (yes, that bit was TOTALLY unexpected) and is building her own little family in her own little world so it seems the war has been won.

I sometimes look at her and think "I did that... I helped there" but then I realise that she's doing it all on her own, really and I'm very, very proud of her.

A Poignant Nativity

Nativities are both crap and brilliant in equal measures.

I've just returned from watching Jake in the Junior Nativity Play.  This was, as the title suggests, a poignant nativity for me because I realised that it was the last time I'd ever see any of my children in a traditional nativity.  I started crying the minute the curtains opened and showed Year 3 singing (I know not one single child in Year 3, 4 or 5) and continued crying until the curtain closed for the final time half an hour later *rolls eyes*.  

Yes, I'm pathetic.  It's official.

This Nativity play was called "Round The Back" and was the traditional nativity story interspersed with modern day references.   The grumpy innkeeper just wanted some sleep because he'd been busy rehearsing for Strictly Come Dancing, the light from the star was compared to the light from a Nintendo DS in a darkened room, the Angels danced to "The Eve Of The War" from War of the Worlds and the Three Kings auditioned in front of the X-Factor judges.  The role of Simon Cowell was acted by, yes, you've guessed it - Jake!!  He got the biggest laughs by playing to the crowd (hitching his trousers up, rolling his eyes and arguing with Louis) and showed off his dancing skills when the judges danced with the Kings (I know... very surreal).  I think the headteacher is a closet disco fan because, apart from the Angels' dance and the final song (sung by the whole ensemble) all the songs were rearranged/reworded Abba tunes.

There was no drama, no-one burst into tears, no-one forgot their lines (in fact, ALL the cast were word perfect), baby Jesus' head didn't fall off and all the kids sung their hearts out (mostly in tune).  I'm just sad it's all over.  For ever. 

What a 10 year old wants for Christmas...

... and it's all available from Argos.

I found this "Cristmas List" stuffed in between the pages of my Filofax earlier today. This appears to be the next stage along from giving your child a pen and the Argos catalogue and letting them circle the toys on their wish list. I'm very pleased to note that Jake's spelling and handwriting is coming on a treat (he's just received his "pen licence" at school). It's a shame that Father Christmas will not be able to obtain everything on the list but he may replace it with other presents that are just as good, if not better. Please note the inclusion of the Argos catalogue numbers, for our convenience.

On the list we have:

1. science museum 400ft stomp Rocket
(he won't be getting this - we live in a terraced house with no garden - yes, apparently the rocket will fly up to 400 feet in the air - no mention of the very upset child when the rocket does not come directly down into the arms of afore-mentioned child or, if you are using it in the local park, it gets stuck up a tree or a dog runs off with it.)

2. offcial Manchester United couler crest mirrer
(he will not be receiving this either. Football, pah!)

3. zeebeez collector set
(we have bought these - not sure what they do and there doesn't seem to be a lot in the box for ten quid. No instructions included but some vague directions on the internet about turning them inside out and waiting for them to "pop up". I wonder if they'll compensate for the non-appearance of the Stomp Rocket?)

4. Rubeits cube
(we'll probably pick this up at the weekend and also one of the other Rubik's puzzles)

5. skuter
(this is a much coveted present and we will have to get this, however, the only ones in stock ANYWHERE in the North West at the moment seem to be pink, or High School Musical themed, or not big/sturdy enough... well, there are some, but they are in the region of £40 *faints*)

6. skiletriks
(thanks to James May's Toy Stories the discovery of a number of old childhood favourites have materialised. I just wish we'd kept the scalextric that we bought for Michael years ago.)

7. skatebourd
(this is a no-brainer - already purchased. He's had loads of skateboards and loves them)

On the back of this note is a "cristmas list" for his brother. He has guessed what his 16 year old brother wants for Christmas and written it down. It has one item on it with just the Argos catalogue number - it's good that Argos has a website, really because I sure as hell wasn't going to search through the whole book looking for it. So it looks like Michael is going to be getting a docking station for his X-Box controllers.

Jake also told us (fairly discreetly, just in case anyone was listening) that he still believes in Father Christmas but he may not do next year when he goes to high school...


Today it is 27 years since my Nana died. I only remembered after I'd written the date a few times, however I do have vivid memories of the day she died and the week after.

I was 10 years old and in top class at primary school. Nana's house was on the route to school so I used to walk to there with my mum and my sister then cross the park to my friend's house and walk to school with her (oh, the grown up responsibility - walking 3 blocks with no adult supervision!). On 2nd December 1982 Mum asked me if I wanted to go and see Nana on the way because I'd not seen her all week. I said that I didn't and skipped off to Tara's house.

Later that night, just as I'd gone to bed, the phone rang. I could hear mum's muffled voice then I heard her make another phone call. About 15 minutes later, my aunt and uncle came round and my mum and dad went out. My aunt came upstairs and said that my Nana had called to say she was unwell, could my mum go round and that she had come to look after my sister and I for a while.

I couldn't sleep. My 10 year old brain was telling me that something just wasn't quite right. I tossed and turned for what seemed like an age and then then I heard the front door open and close. I listened to snippets of the conversation and worked out what was going on. Nana had died.

I sat at the top of the stairs with my legs outstretched; my heels on my feet touching the very edge of the top step so that all you could have seen from the bottom of the stairs was the underneath of my foot and I imagined that this is how Nana was now, waiting in Purgatory, before she went to Heaven. It's how the mind of a good Catholic girl worked, you see - I was mixing up 'souls' and 'soles'. I must have been sat there a while because I heard a lot more detail about what the doctor thought was the cause of death, how the fire brigade had had to break into her flat and where she was when she was found. I heard my dad moving around downstairs and scuttled back to bed. He then came upstairs, woke my sister and I (I pretended to be asleep) and broke the news to us.

The next day I went to school as normal, but we walked a different route - not past Nana's house. Once in school and before class started, we said morning prayers and my teacher mentioned her during a remembrance prayer. I then started to feel guilty. All I could remember was not wanting to go and visit her the previous morning... I'd just wanted to go and call for my friend and walk to school on my own.

Although I don't remember much about the next week, it must have affected me a lot. I told my parents what I had heard on the night she died and they were surprised at how much I already knew. They also realised why I was now so upset even though they'd tried to protect me from the sadness. I begged and begged to go to the funeral as I felt that it was my way to make amends and say goodbye.

When I had my own children and they started developing their own personalities, my mum would say, "Your Nana would have loved Rachel/Michael/Jake"... and, I agree, she would. And it's because of the lovely memories I have of my Nana that I also wanted to be called "Nana" when my daughter first found out she was pregnant last year.

Spare Filofax? Set it free!!!!!

Steve at Philofaxy posted this blog earlier in the week about an idea that I'd had - a way of road-testing a new Filofax to see if it would suit your needs - a "try before you buy" type of service.

I know from personal experience that people have an abundance of Filofaxes (a recent survey proved that many owners have two or more Filofaxes) stuffed in drawers or displayed on shelves, mainly unused because they no longer fulfil their purpose. How about releasing that Filofax back into the community where it would be loved and appreciated, either on loan or as a swap?

Come and join us at the Google Group that Steve has created and see if you can join in the fun.

Word Clouds


I compiled this "Wordle" earlier using the words from this blog:

Wordle: Typcast
(click the image for the full-size view)

Why don't you have a go? Here is their website:

Also, you might like to try a Facebook application that is very similar. It uses your status updates from the past week, month or year and creates a "Status Cloud":

Here's mine:

I'm liking the frequent use of the words "brew", "wine", "assignment" and "twitter"... that just about sums up my life!!


An open letter to Liz Jones of the Daily Mail

(click first paragraph for original Daily Mail article)
Living on benefits isn’t something that you can pick and choose to do one week at a time, when you feel like it. Circumstances take over and this becomes a way of life. Do you imagine that the majority of claimants, in the current climate, enjoy living on (or below) the breadline? And yet you chose to write a patronising article about how “difficult” it is and how you haven’t got a clue how much things cost complimenting that by bragging about how much you’re already in debt. You may be trying to show that you are eating humble pie but what steps have you taken since this experiment to rectify your situation? Your attitude to debt astounds me. You’ll see why as you read on.
I’ve been on benefits. Up until 5 years ago, my family lived on benefits for approximately 10 years. During this time we had to arrange to pay our bills weekly because monthly budgeting is near impossible. We also had card meters installed so we could easily see how much money was being spent on the heating and the electric. If there wasn’t enough to last the week, we turned the lights off, we wore another jumper and put another blanket on the bed. We had to buy “own brand” foods from the cheapest supermarket and we had to accept offers of second hand furniture (these were the days before Freecycle even existed, never mind being hip). Decorating the (local authority housing) house was a luxury we could ill afford so we used cheap wallpaper and cheap paint once in a blue moon. Carpeting was similar – usually cord or “end of rolls”.
At one point in those 10 years I managed to find a job in a nursing home as an auxiliary carer. I messed my housing benefit claim up and subsequently was convicted of fraud to the tune of £4000 – YES, FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS... NOT £150,000 - £2000 in housing benefit, £2000 in council tax benefit. Why? Because I’d written the wrong date down on one part of the form. I narrowly missed going to prison for this – my family (two young children and my husband) were distraught. That criminal conviction stays with me and almost prevented me from getting a mortgage four years ago.
We managed to turn our life around and I started work. Because of ill-health, it was decided that I would go to work full time and my husband would be the at-home parent. We literally scrape by on just my wage. What you spend on your appearance in one month is three-quarters of my monthly salary. How can you justify that? Also, the clothes that you are pictured in are “rags”. I can honestly say that at any time in my life – claiming benefits or working full time – that I have never, EVER, dressed in torn clothing (even when it was fashionable) – I take pride in my appearance but it doesn’t cost me £800 a month. What WAS the point in that photograph?
Even now, we have to budget our monthly spend and we find that there is often more month than money. The recent recession has increased prices for everyday items but my salary hasn’t increased accordingly. I am now in a position where I am worrying about how to provide for Christmas because, after the bills are paid to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs, there simply isn’t anything left. And, yes, we use every budgeting tool available to us. I daren’t tell you about the expensive petrol I put into my car and how I squeeze out every last drop before I fill up again. I’d love to be able to use public transport (yes, the bus!!) but my office is based off the beaten track. We do have little luxuries like a budget package for Sky (phone calls, TV and broadband) for approximately £32 per month so why your broadband package alone is over £100 per month is beyond me. Do you have a special gold-plated modem?
You tried to cram every stereotype into your one week as possible. Why did you go and try and pawn your jewellery? You may have needed to wear your (fake) pearls to an event the week after. Would you really have bought clothes from Primark? If your “friend” didn’t pay for her glass of champagne why didn’t you shout after her and demand that she pays her share? And just in case you hadn’t noticed, you managed to spend £265, not £64. Where did the extra £201 materialise from? I’m damn sure I could do with a magic £200 every week. That would solve all my problems in one fail swoop.
Sell your frivolous purchases and start paying off your debts. You have had your designer sunglasses whipped off and proclaim to have seen the light but I’m sure you’re putting them back on again before you are blinded. You may think you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of those who live on the breadline but, believe me, you’ve only taken a couple of baby steps.
©Nicola O’Hara
aged 37 and a half
wife to one, mother of three, grandmother to two (almost)
living life to the max, frugally

Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come Again Another Day...

Driving to work this morning and I got stuck in a traffic jam. Nothing unusual there - it's the rush hour after all - but this was an odd sort of place to get stuck. I use this route because it's fairly quiet and there doesn't seem to be any bottlenecks on the way up to the motorway junction.

Anyway, this is the UK. There's been a bit of rain. There is a dip in the road. Water has collected at the bottom of the dip (no surprise there). Here is how deep the water was....

*rolls eyes*
There was also a random bloke (not council - probably some do-gooder who had no good to do anywhere else) attempting to stop the traffic so that he could poke at a drain with a big stick (it was definitely a stick, not a dyno-rod or anything) assuming that would help. Er, no love, it wasn't helping.


Things that money can't buy... well, they obviously can, for a start...

It's that time of year again... the Children In Need night on Friday 20th November and my friends seem to be split into two camps when it comes to the actual show. We have the "Yay, CIN! Gratuitous crap TV" group and the "OFFS, CIN! Gratuitous crap TV" group. I am in the former group.

All week I've been listening to the grand job that Sir Terry Wogan does for Children in Need, auctioning off the "Things That Money Can't Buy" to raise money for the fund. There are some fantastic auctions on offer this year but the minute the bids go over ten quid, it sort of puts me out of the running, giving me a feeling of inadequacy. And I'm sure there are a lot of people who feel the same way.

The winners of these auctions don't actually need these prizes. It seems to be more about how much cash they can flash rather than doing it for the good of the cause and, if they're being honest, the amount of money that they've bid could actually buy what they are bidding for!!!!!

I know there's a 50p-to-enter-plus-standard-network-charge text-in competition for us minions to enter but the prize for that isn't exactly fantastic... a day at the Radio 2 studios sitting in on all the main daytime shows - but you probably won't be allowed to talk or anything normal like that. I'd quite fancy helping Jeremy Vine with his phone-in but the winner will be eating lunch with Ken Bruce (in the BBC canteen?) whilst that is going on.

I don't deny that the money raised by Sir Tel this week is going to a fantastic cause but I do feel that it eliminates probably 80% of his audience from taking part.

Yr6 Homework – present tense, past tense

So, the 10 year old is getting regular homework now that he’s in the top class at his primary school. It’s all in preparation for his SAT’s next year and, whilst I’m not a big advocator of homework (I have the knowledge to help, just not the inclination), I can see how much he is improving. He has ADHD which includes a short attention span and a low reading age so homework can take a bit longer than anticipated.
Last night was no exception. At 7.30pm he wafted 8 pages of pre-printed sheets under my nose and pronounced that it (his homework) had to be handed in on Friday morning and he wouldn’t have time to do it on Thursday night because he was at his gymnastics training session for three hours.
We sat down at the table and, to encourage him, I got my Uni assignment out and thought that we could study in companionable silence.
Oh no... nothing in the O’Hara household is that simple.
Every question needed to be read with him or I had to listen. to. the. staccato. sound. of. him. sounding. out. each. word. and then I had to try and explain what the teacher expected from him (don’t they cover this in class?).
The first task was transposing given sentences from present tense into past tense. The conversation went a little like this:
Jake: So the sentence is “I want an Action Man for my birthday” and I have to put that into past tense. How do I do that, Mum?
Me: Well, think about when you wrote out your birthday list back in May and all the presents that you listed. You know you didn’t get all of them. Imagine that one of those had been an Action Man. What would you be saying to me now?
Jake: I’d say “I didn’t get an Action Man”!
Me: Um... I suppose that’s right but that’s not how you need to write it down. You need to change a word in the original sentence.
Jake: Do I say “No-one would get me an Action Man for my birthday”?
Me: Oh for God’s sake, it’s NOT supposed to be this difficult.... Er... you know when you asked for a biscuit an hour ago and I said ‘No’ and now you were going to go and tell Dad about it, what would you say to him?
Jake: I’d say “Dad, can I have a biscuit because Mum didn’t let me have one” and he’d probably say “Yes”.
Me: muttering under my breath *hhmm that’s about right*... Listen love, you have to write that you as if you were telling someone about the list for your birthday and you didn’t get the present....
Jake: I could have had... I needed... I wanted... WANTED!!! That’s the right word, isn’t it, Mum? Where’s my pencil? sticks tongue in the corner of his mouth and writes very slowly and neatly “I. wanted. an. Action. Man. for. my. birthday.” Right ... Question 2...
Last night we covered present tense transposition into past tense, imagination using the words could/should/would, division using number lines (wtf? what is wrong with putting a curly bracket around the bigger number and dividing each number?), marking weights on scales and a letter to home from a soldier in the first World War trenches. Come 9pm we were both shattered and drained!!
At least I know he’s probably got most of it right. When his dad and his 16-year old brother “helped” him with his homework one night they “helped” him to do it all wrong. Oh, what joy parents evening is going to be next week!

Please NOTE That...

Without music life would be a mistake. ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

I love my music and it surrounds me all day - mp3 player, radio, Spotify... Without it, even just playing in the background, I feel lost. The first tune of the day can set my mood for the next few hours or can irritate me by playing on a loop inside my head during moments of silence.

There are certain songs or melodies which immediately transport me back in time to a certain event or emotion, there are film scores which will make my eyes prickle with tears
and there are genres that I just don't get (my friend Sam tries to get me to like all sorts of weird stuff - she's a strange one, for sure).

I used to participate in a "music thread" on a forum on a Friday night. It was mainly a bunch of women (and the odd bloke), sitting in front of their computer, with a bottle of their favourite tipple, posting links from YouTube. Some were favourite songs, some were long forgotten songs that have jumped into the forefront of the memory after hearing another song, some were just bizarre, some were meaningful, some were current chart hits and some were special. But basically, it was a night "in" with my friends, gossiping and toasting the week gone by and no paying for babysitters!!! It's my favourite night of the week. I think you have to join in to appreciate it - it's not geeky at all....

I also believe that the accessibility we have to music these days is amazing, as is the diversity. I really miss the days of waiting for a new record to be released by my favourite band, saving up to buy it from the record shop and then watching it climb the charts as its popularity increased. Nowadays, because of downloads, a new release from a popular band is expected to hit the top spot in the charts and creates more furore if it doesn't. However, the turnaround of new music gives us much more choice and variety.


PLEASE help me find this book...

OK, I knew there was a reason for starting this blog - I now need the help of all my readers... YES, THAT'S YOU!!!
I bought a book many years ago (well, about 1993/4) and read it over and over and over again. It was falling to bits but lovingly sellotaped back together again until one day, it was lost forever during a house move :-(
I can even envisage the cover... it was a drawing (not a photo) of the back view of a woman in a fitted red dress, turning slightly as though she was viewing herself in the mirror.
I bought it in a book club 3-for-2 deal and the other two books were "Hungry Women" by Laramie Dunaway and the other was "Wicked Women" by the same author, both published by Warner (I think). It will have been written/published around 1990-1991 possibly.
Here is the story line:
A lady needs a break from "real life" and goes off wandering in town. She walks down a side street that she's not noticed before and stumbles upon a dress shop. She goes into the dress shop and wanders round the rails. Each rail is dresses from a different era; 80's, 70's, 60's, etc. She tries on a couple of dresses but the shopkeeper encourages her to try something on a bit older. She offers her a red, floor length dress that is from the 1920's but looks brand new (it's a bit like Mr Benn at this stage). 
As she's trying on the dress she feels a bit dizzy but admits that it fits like a glove, and looks fantastic. She pays for it and goes home. 
In the evening, she tries the dress on again and feels dizzy again and faints. When she comes too she's travelled back in time to the era of the dress but everyone thinks she's another woman. When she checks out pictures of this other woman, she realises that they indeed do look very similar. She carries on the life of this other woman. 
In the meantime - the other woman is now in the 1990's and is trying to come to terms with HER new life (modern, fast living) with only the knowledge of the 1920's.
Anyway - it's about how they cope with what's thrown at them, how they seem more suited to the era that they've travelled to and how they make contact with each other.

PLEASE help me to find the book as I am convinced I imagined it!!!!

The Pot Calls The Kettle Black

Whilst browsing through Twitter earlier today I had noticed that Derren Brown had tweeted the link to his latest blog post. I had 5 minutes to spare so I thought I'd give it the once over.


The subject matter isn't the issue... it's the choice of wording!!

"... few things disturb me more about modern TV than people being humiliated and misled for our entertainment..."

Oh dear, Mr Brown! Could you remind us what your Channel 4 commissions have been recently?
all of which involve people being humiliated and misled for our entertainment.

All of the above links have been taken from Derren Brown's Wikipedia page which, funnily enough, describes him as a "mentalist". That made me snigger for some strange reason.....





Talkative or chatty, especially of persons given to excess conversation.

I set my Facebook status to one of those silly "describe me in one word" type games and this was one of the descriptions I received.

I must say that it suits me down to the ground given my Facebook and Twitter activity but I'm a bit embarassed by the fact that I had to look up its meaning!!

LOL has gone from meaning "Laugh Out Loud" to "I have nothing to say"

So, you're on Facebook or Twitter or an internet forum and one of your friend posts something that they believe is funny and they're quite obviously expecting a reaction but you're unsure as to whether it's quite as funny as they make out... what do you do?

DILEMMA!! *insert quandry type da-da-duuuuhhh music here*

Solved... you type a cheery "LOL" underneath their post and carry on with your social networking and the rest of your life. Now you're safe! You've acknowledged their post, you've made them believe that you share a sense of humour and you're not about to be dumped from their friends list for not "speaking" to them for a while. Everyone's a winner.

*disclaimer* The above post does NOT count when I type "LOL" on someone's post. I only post if I think it's funny. Or something like that... *whistles nonchalantly*

The Self-Service Checkout

The novelty has now worn off!!

Once it was fun to pretend you were a check-out girl (BEEP!) and scan your own items (BEEP!). The kids enjoyed joining in (BEEP!) and hunting for the bar code, packing the bags whilst you scanned (BEEP!) the next item, then they'd feed the money into the little slot...

Now, it's just another chore.

There's LOADS of people in the "10 items or less" queue (some stores allow you 15 or even 20 items) trying to save time. And you can guarantee that many of these have sneaked an extra item or two into their basket. I've seen them. I've counted the items in their basket. You know who you are!!!!

So I scan my items, as quickly as possible, for that is what this facility is for... speed... in and out... but some items WILL NOT SCAN, for love nor money... so you have to stand around and wait for the one assistant who works on this section to come and swipe his Card Of Power across your machine whilst all the time you are getting glares from the other customers behind you in the queue.

And god forbid if you should try and buy alcohol!!! Again, you have to wait for an assistant (who, by now, has gone to help some other gormless idiot who can't scan an item successfully) to come and check you over and then type in a code to say that they believe you are over 18. I thought I'd enjoy being ID'd at the grand old age of 37 but, instead, it makes me shuffle around shiftily!!

You then have to try and manoeuvre it all into carrier bags on a shelf no bigger than baby changing mat. If you don't use this system: SCAN, BAG, SCAN, BAG, SCAN, BAG the system flashes up a warning sign and will not allow you to continue scanning until you make the very important decision of whether you want to place this item in your bag or not. You obviously have to make this choice whilst the item is on it's way from the scanner to the bag... you may have paused for a couple of seconds to ensure that your child is still somewhere nearby or to juggle your purse because you didn't bring your handbag with you or to breathe or something.

And when you try to pay you only have a manky old ten pound note that has seen better days.... torn at the edges, bent at the corners, tatty looking. And no matter how many times you try to line this note up in the machine, it spits it back out at you, inviting you to try again!!!!


In the meantime, approximately 8 people have swanned through the self-service till next to you with no problems at all. It's supposed to be easier and quicker, isn't it? So why am I always so bloody stressed afterwards?

My Filofax...

My life, my love... where would I be without it? Lost and confused most probably!!

I possess the dogs bollocks of all filofax's (in my opinion). It's an A5 Metropol Zip in black and stores everything I need to organise my life. It's big and bulky (it's a bit like me, really) but that suits me down to the ground because I have everything I need in one place - and a big zip to stop it all falling out. It also fits perfectly in my "work bag".

the order of my filofax is as follows:

Business cards of friends and work
3D digital image postcards for random competitions and writing to people
My Parker biro

A clear plastic pocket for stuffing receipts, stamps and stuff in
Filofax post-it notes (I cannot be without these)

SECTION 1: diary (week to 2-pages) with my unique colour codes (see below)
SECTION 2: personal information, ideas for blogs and writing, personal finances, library wish list, crafting notes, personal photos, etc.
SECTION 3: work notes, HR guidelines, etc.
SECTION 4: Uni notes, timetable, course results, list of courses
SECTION 5: fund raising ideas, committee tasks, list of contacts (people to annoy to give me things for prizes)
SECTION 6: blank paper, lined paper, to-do blanks, general notes, jottings, reminders that have to go in my diary at some point, unimportant things...

then my address/phone number section

a filofax hole punch (NO filofax should be without an appropriate hole punch!!!)
a mechanical pencil

I have a special colour-coded system (a) because I'm a bit anal about organising myself and bright colours drive me into doing something and (b) because it looks quite pretty *innocent look*.
Orange = Personal
Green/Yellow = Work related
Blue = Work related (Training)
Pink = Uni (usually deadlines or module start dates)

I often think that it's slightly too big to be carting around all over the place but if I tried to downsize I'd run out of writing space or would be a "section" short!!!. I love it, love it, love it!!!







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