The memory box

Folding the letter she gently smoothed the sheet of paper under her fingers feeling beneath them dryness of age that had affected it. Eyes too poor to read it now, nevertheless she knew every word by heart having devoured it so often over the years, now carefully stored with so many others and only now seeing light of day.

HARRY!

Closing her eyes his face flashed into her mind, hazy now as she struggled after so long to keep his features sharp and clear, she was losing him to time she knew that and the thought made her smile sadly. So long ago yet brief moments of clarity would invade her thoughts, his smile cutting through the fog and making it seem like only yesterday and then he was gone again leaving her with only these tangible memories. 

Sighing softly she replaced the pages into the large carved wooden box, fingers brushing a small packet as she did so drawing it slowly towards her before cupping it gently in her wrinkled palms and clasping it to her chest.  ‘Not long my love’ she thought to herself ‘Soon, it shall be soon’

Leaving the packet unopened she returned it quickly to the box, thrusting it inside as guilt burned and she slightly afraid of being discovered although she knew she would not be, nobody came any more. A splash of bright colour caught her eye and she reached towards a garish painted picture of a child’s hand with crude scrawl underneath depicting the artist’s name.

Ella.

Another smile, eyes warming briefly before the light quickly faded, no Ella was long gone and this just yet another memory of things come and gone in her many years of being. Sadness less sharp as each year went by panged momentarily before she dismissed it and returned the picture to lie back along its fellow inhabitants of the cluttered old box. 

Her worn gaze swept over the small grizzled teddy bear and the beribboned letters, oh she had been so popular in her day with her many suitors all begging for a smile, a glance, some sign of recognition from her but almost from the first she had only had eyes for him. Sweeping an errant lock of hair from her forehead she leaned further over the box disturbing the contents in her hunt for the one thing she sought. She needed to find it, to bring him close again before her failing mind refused to remember what she was looking for and left her in that absent place where nothing mattered any more. 

There! There it was.  Her heart leapt as she found the one thing she wanted and fingers rapidly cleared the dust from the front of the small framed picture. Lovingly she gazed at the sun bleached photograph, yellow with age, showing a young couple smiling shyly at each other.He resplendent in some bygone uniform showing duty to his country and she delicately pretty in florals and lace, bonnet trailing from fingers gently clasped between his.

Harry.

Even as she gazed the fog came and eyes clouded over, picture already forgotten falling into her lap and memories of him vanishing like mist in the sun. In the shadows of the room a figure waited, brass buttons shining on a uniform of old, boyish face echoing the love reflected earlier on hers. He could wait, he’d waited such a long time that a little longer would not hurt. 

‘Soon my love’ he smiled ‘ i shall see you soon’ 

Who ate all the pies?

diet-christmas

Yes girls its christmas, a dieters dread and guilty delight. Usually by now i’ve stocked up on so much food that the local barracks are considering me as a siege base should we ever get invaded. This year i’ve been a little more restrained although there are plenty of goodies still in store, i’ll just be shoving more of it in the direction of super slim boyfriend and mentally wiring my own jaws shut. 

But its christmas right? You cant not indulge to some extent and after 7 months of dieting and a 42lb weight loss im more than due something nicer to eat than lettuce! So as i’m happily dreaming of mince pies and chocolates eaten watching a movie, my bubble is firmly burst with the advent of todays email.

Oh look, a diet email from Jenny Craig telling me i can lose lots of weight *twinge of guilt*

Oh look another lose 7lbs by christmas email! *bigger prod of guilt*

Oh and another on how to survive the christmas holidays without gaining weight AARRGGHHH!! Okay okay i feel guilty i’ll have lettuce with my turkey and i’ll only sniff the chocolate tin once or twice!! PLEASE don’t send the ghost of January diet future after me i promise i’ll be good!!

amazing-difference

Actually theyre getting earlier this time. Usually they at least wait until the 2nd of January! I’ll be sitting with mince pie in hand, happily ensconced infront of the tv when the letter box will rattle. Heaving up my christmas tummy i’ll waddle off into the hallway to retrieve the Slimming world leaflet from the floor. This is shortly followed by Weight Watchers, Shapes and a leaflet from the gym. By now im hiding under the stairs trying to furtively eat my mince pie whilst sucking in my stomach and clenching my buttocks, mentally muttering ”i’ll go next week ,really i will”.

This year oh no! This year its different they’ve clearly decided i’m going to gain weight before i’ve even eaten anything!! So this week despite being pretty much at  goal weight and a much slimmer size 10/12 i’m munching faithfully on a lettuce mountain trying to take off a few pounds to use as a buffer. Okay take me away guv i confess i done it, it was me *holding hands out for handcuffs* 

So post christmas whilst twiglet of a boyfriend bewails his non existant stomach i shall be firmly holding mine in, giving him doleful looks and envying his super metabolism whilst malevolently cursing my own. Don’t worry Jenny i will be back on a diet in January i promise…now where are those mince pies??

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When its all just down to Mr Benn

I remember back when i was small ( yes trust me i can remember back that far) and one thing i always remember is a childrens tv show called Mr Benn. Short little cartoons where an ordinary unassuming little man in his ordinary little bowler hat would take a trip to a fancy dress shop and try on a different outfit every time and disappear on a wonderful adventure to be an astronaut, a wizard or even a roman gladiator. Back then i imagined it to be so very wonderful to magically be someone else just by putting on another hat and yes i wanted to go to that little fancy dress shop and be a princess or a ballerina or perhaps something even more wonderful than that. I wanted to be Mr Benn…..

All grown up now and i had to smile when recently i stumbled across a reference to the adventurous Mr Benn but then as i sat and looked at the pictures a thought occurred to me that never would have as a child. Mr Benn went into that shop so often and came out as someone, but never once did he go through that magical door choosing to be just himself. In my own way i am my very own Mr Benn, the very person my childhood self  had always wanted to be but somehow it doesnt seem as magical as i thought it would. A lifetime spent wearing different hats, mother, daughter, sister, wife and in all of them im somebody else and limited by the dictates that the outfit provides. Somehow as time went by i realised i was so busy being what everyone else expected me to be i forgot about the most important character of all…ME. 

How often in our lives do we strive to impress others, those who actually really do not matter at all since they are not an essential part of our lives but merely passing through. Yet we change ourselves to impress when in reality what we should say is ..this is me accept me. Strange how we feel the need to be perceived in such a positive light by people who do not know us, mostly never will and who at the end of the day will not give us another passing thought as they go about their own busy lives. Why should they? We are nothing to them beyond those brief points in which we interact, once over resuming to as it was before.  Ultimately when doors are closed and we are all alone the only thing we see looking back at us is our own face in the mirror, but are we really looking at ourselves or have we tried so hard to be what we think will impress that we have lost all sense of what makes us who we are. Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

I used to be that way, so desperate to please and to be liked. Strange that i wanted to be liked for someone who did not exist rather than the one who was there all along. Now….this is me, accept me for i shall not change. And if you like me i shall know you like me just for myself and nothing more than that.

Mr Benn? No i don’t want to be Mr Benn. Do you?

I am Panda, and Panda is me. 

Duxford Autumn Airshow 2012

As an early morning mist clears from the skies above Duxford it looked likely to be a sunny clear day for all at the Autumn Air show 2012. If the event organisers were breathing a sigh of relief, there was certainly no sign of it but one cannot deny there was likely much holding of breath and watching of local weather reports. As a low sun glinted cheekily upon the colourful array of exhibitors it seemed that once again flocking visitors were in for a treat.

A rather quiet programme by some standards, the thinner crowds also lead one to question whether a current recession is beginning to feel its pinch in the world of aviation. Nevertheless it promised to be a most glorious display of speed and superiority as each fought to be the star of the show. Some more flamboyant like the highly colourful Hawk T-1 jet drew gasps of awe at her sheer dramatic speed and obvious skill from her pilot whilst others less aesthetic yet no less impressive relied on prowess alone. A sad day for aviation indeed since for this Hawk in particular this was to be her swansong, never again will she be seen to delight the public at an air-show. A final bow out of memorable proportions, this was one lady who did herself proud.

Joined by the no less colourful Tucano T1 ZF269 ‘ER’  , the public were in for a real treat as the RAF amply displayed its technical skill  and well deserved reputation as a forerunner in the world of aviation. Fearless daring from both pilots as the equally impressive Hawk and Tucano demonstrated exactly what they are capable of. To a backdrop of excellent commentary, the public kept its gaze firmly skyward drinking in the drama unfolding above. One could not fail to miss the gasps of appreciation resulting from a perfect accelerated stall. Regrettably also the last performance from the dashing Tucano pilot as he waved his farewells to an appreciative crowd, leaving to begin training as a Typhoon jet pilot, he clearly will be missed at Duxford.

Quietly serene amongst its more junior counterparts stood the matriarchal figure of the B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sally B’ and perhaps one will forgive this writer for a certain amount of bias when it comes to the charms of this rather glorious old girl. A quieter, slower paced display from the lady herself but nonetheless impressive as her smoke plumed finale put the icing very firmly upon a steady but stunning performance. No less formidable was the imposing bulk of the Dakota FZ692 ‘Kwicherbichen’ ,  a commanding presence that needs none of the vivacity of the more colourful planes to draw the eye. Sheer air domination kept all eyes upon her as she paraded her arena with ease, giving awaiting photographers ample opportunity to capture her dramatic form.

Not to be outdone a most spectacular pairing from the distinctively throaty P-51D Mustang, aptly named ‘Ferocious Frankie’ and the aesthetic delights of  the Hawker Hunter F-58A ‘Miss Demeanour’ . An aerial dance of breathtaking proportions saw them sail the skies in a dramatic battle for supremacy set effectively against a rapidly darkening sky. Yet if the conditions were now not so much to the liking of waiting photographers this did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the awestruck public watching avidly below. Disappointed they were definitely not as the pair played a most lavish game of aerial cat and mouse that left onlookers wanting more.

Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Merlin engined Mustang, ‘Ferocious Frankie’ paired with effective ease with the legendary Spitfire IX from The Old Flying Machine Company. With a distinctive sound they proved why the Mustang engine was such an important development in aviation history. One could think of no better place to commemorate this momentous event than at Duxford itself, where it all began. A moment to remember and one not likely to be forgotten by those who had flocked from near and far to see them. If the clicks of nearby camera’s were anything to go by this is one event definitely captured for posterity. 

Certainly a treat for the eyes, Duxford Autumn Air show delivered on every front despite a day of slowly plunging temperatures and the advent of an angry looking sky. Onlookers by no means willing to tear themselves away, staying steadfast to the last to pay tribute to all who took to the air. Still they came, the Pitts Special pair, Hispano Buchon (Messerschmitt Bf 109),the bright blue and yellow Boeing Stearman and the dramatically feline Black Cats Lynx Pair. To the delight of their audience they held court over the skies of Duxford bringing to a close another year in the aviation calendar.Definitely in for the long haul the fans paid a well deserved homage, ensuring the success of yet another show.

As the day drew to a close reluctant to leave enthusiasts lingered for one last look as a re-emerging sun cast a late afternoon glow over the stars of the day.  A show it promised to be and a show it most certainly was.

All photographs reproduced with kind permission from Sanjay Rampal http://falkencommunications.wordpress.com/

The Panda guide to packing

Do you struggle with packing? Do you constantly arrive at your destination with all the wrong clothing and end up wearing the same items over and over again? Then follow the Panda guide to packing and you will always be covered for every eventuality…

1) Make sure you have a suitcase big enough for your needs, if in doubt try and fit your whole body into it and if you cannot then it really is not big enough. This also doubles as emergency aid to getting rid of dead bodies should the need ever arise. Be sure to buy a suitcase with wheels thereby enabling you to trot elegantly with said suitcase in your wake. 

2) Start by packing towels and shoes at the bottom to avoid crushing any clothing you pack afterwards. This also gives you the added bonus of being able to hide totally inappropriate shoes away from sight and therefore avoid having to justify taking them.

3) Pack enough pairs of knickers for your stay then add the sexy ones, the no vpl ones, the hold in your tummy ones, the incase i get run over by a bus ones(with matching bra of course) and just for good measure add a few more anyway. Follow the same advice with regards to bras and sexy lingerie. At least if your case gets stolen nobody will focus on your Bridget knickers, they will be too busy leering at the little black lacy number.

4) Decide exactly what you wish to wear on each day of your trip and set aside a travelling outfit. Then add another outfit for each day just in-case you change your mind about each choice.This is a womans perogative and completely reasonable.  Follow this with clothing to cover extreme cold weather (you dont want to freeze do you?) ditto with outfits to cover sudden extreme heatwave (cmon how silly would you look boiling like a lobster in your big jumper?)

5) Survey the contents of your half full case and throw in more shoes.Shoes are good, you really cant ever have enough of them so this is a perfectly valid action.

6) Disregard earlier point about packing shoes at the bottom as it really is too tedious to remove everything and repack it all again.

7) Empty the contents of several jewellery boxes onto the bed and spend a happy half an hour co-ordinating accessories with your outfits. Remember to add belts and scarves!!

8) Pause in writing blog as you realise you HAVE actually forgotten to pack scarves!! Run upstairs to rectify the error immediately.

9) Fill every space space with toiletries, cosmetics and fragrances then heed caution and unpack them all and repack in plastic bags to avoid explosions.

10) Lean your whole bodyweight onto the suitcase to ensure a tight fit and zip it slowly closed. If it refuses then further assistance will be required. Gather up stray children, pets and passing neighbours and balance safely upon the offending suitcase, therefore allowing you to zip it closed and tuck in any stray items poking from the sides.

11) Ponder madly teetering case and debate whether you have in-fact packed enough clothing. Decide that in an emergency you can always borrow suitable items from your boyfriend (lets face it who doesn’t look cute wearing their  guy’s clothes huh?) 

12) Have mad burst of inspiration and pack sunglasses even though the weather forecast says heavy rain and wind. Add another pair incase the first get broken in transit then sit smugly on the floor confident at your practical packing methods.

13) Put camera, ipod, kindle and mobile phone on charge and leave in plain view to be packed later.

14) Begin organisation and packing of Mary Poppin’s style never ending handbag, just as important as the suitcase itself.

15) Congratulate yourself on a job well done and ignore mental images of boyfriends look of resignation as the back wheel of his car buckle due to your fabulous packing. 

There you have it, the Panda guide to packing. Follow these simple rules and you will never be caught unprepared again. Happy holidays!!

You gotta love her!!

Anyone who either diets or works out will no doubt heard of Jillian Michaels, biggest loser trainer and super cool fitness guru and i feel no shame in admitting i am a huge fan. Yup she’s tough and sure she takes no crap from anyone but she gets results and like most women oh boy would i die to look like that. Forget all your super skinny tinseltown celebs, she knocks them all under the table as far as i and many like me are concerned. Kicking it up in the gym as i have been i really was inspired by her philosophies and i really really LOVE one particular quote of hers…….

Yes i love this and yes i admit like many i have puked after a workout. I run because i want to run with my partner, he inspires me and he keeps me running but when i really want to stop this quote keeps me on there just that little bit longer. Strangely i don’t die but i do feel a mad sense of elation whenever i get just that little bit further. We all have our idols, even us grown up gals and Jillian Michaels is definitely mine. If i can inspire even a fraction of the people she has then i should be happy indeed. 

Until then i shall just keep going.

Mirror Mirror

Like any woman i like to shop from time to time. Don’t get me wrong i adore clothes and shoes as my bulging wardrobes will bear witness to but lately i have leaned more towards the internet side of the retail world. Poor postie he plods up my driveway with a resigned expression, holding out packages as he queries

”Shopping again?”

Ummmmm guilty m’lud take me away! Actually the reality of shopping puts me off even though the idea of it is all fine at the time. Imagine the scenario…

Arriving at the shopping mall you make a beeline for your favourite store, grinning happily as you select item after item you know will look fabulous on you. Arms bulging you stagger to the changing room to be greeted by the requisite overly made up female attendant complete with air of boredom and nail file which she produces at intervals to emphasise her disinterest. 

”youre only allowed five” she says deadpan and monotone

Okay your smile fades somewhat until you espy token friend or partner dragged protestingly on your mission and you thoughtfully thrust the remainder of your items into their arms and rush happily for the nearest cubicle. Now you cannot have failed to notice the lighting in these places, that grim artificial fluorescent light that is far from inviting but ah well youre only here to try on clothes, its not like you have to actually LIVE here right?

Item number one you haul over your head and frown as it seems to be a funny shape and gives you a figure reminiscent of the mornings overfilled rubbish bags and you pull it off swiftly cursing badly designed clothing. Well it looked good on the hanger!! Item two seems to be a better fit and you turn in the mirror trying to judge how big your bottom looks in it. What can i say we’re girls, it matters not if we are size 6 or size 26 we still have the idea our bottoms look huge in….well everything!!

So as you mutter those immortal words

”Mirror mirror on the wall, does my bum look big in this at all?”

Suddenly the mirror in all its badly lit fluorescent glory suddenly looms up and shrieks

”Hell no but girl…….. where DID you get those bags under your eyes??”

Well trust me that’s it!! You no longer have a large booty but youre peering in dismay at the previously unseen black hammocks hanging under your eyes and you let out an unearthly wail. Hastily you purchase the dress that actually DOES make your behind look like the retreating end of the Titanic and hurtle full speed towards the nearest chemist for copious amounts of eye bag cream. 

Its all a conspiracy!!!

Its all part of some secret organisation and dastardly plan conjured up by the beauty industry in general to make you buy badly fitting clothes and expensive miracle creams that you do not need!! Millions of pounds are made every day as evil mirror influenced people rush to purchase remedies for strangely illuminated flaws that vanish in the light of day. Me i’ll stick to internet shopping for the most part for not once has my computer shouted

”What, youre going to buy that? with YOUR ass??”

No it stays silent, i stay bag free and i resort to making my own judgement on the size of my posterior. Really though, does my bum look big in this??

Keeping hold of a ninja panda

Every good superhero has their alter ego and in this i am no exception. I have christened her Ninja Panda for trust me this is what she believes she is. Blame squarely on her shoulders for hauling me from my lovely warm bed and happy little dream world, forcing me to haul ass on the treadmill for what seems like an eternity yet no sign of relenting from her. I cannot help but envy her get up and go for who else would have the energy to dance upon a treadmill at the end of a 10k power walk? Well she would of course!!

Ninja panda has a mission, not content to let my once cuddly form find gleeful solace in some disgustingly sinful gastronomy she steals away my comforts in the night. Whilst i clutch hopefully at a stray donut and practise breathing in a little harder she skips around in gym clothes poring over skinny jeans in an online store.Skinny jeans really?? We don’t do skinny jeans!!

Really aiming high this Ninja Panda and boy do i suffer for it, were she and i not so close i think i could really hate her at times although a twinge of envy creeps in as she twirls in a pretty dress i never could wear. But she lands me in trouble every time and today yet again she has done just that. Okay i suffered her gym torture, 10k!! why do we need to walk that far, is there a Starbucks at the end of it?? Apparently not, yet as usual she makes me walk top speed every step of the way laughing as every muscle shrieks and i dehydrate faster than a fish in a desert. A most evil Ninja Panda indeed.

Not content with forcing me to a life of hard labour she now wants us to run, oh yes you heard right. Now something seems to have escaped her notice for pandas do not run, they are by nature quite lazy and like to sit and eat. Yes you heard me i said they like to sit and EAT!! No running, no exercise just blissful decadent eating in comfort as a true panda should. My alter ego and i?? No we’re going running, apparently. Not content with making my ample bottom move faster than it is used to oh evil one wishes me to do this in public, for 10k!! This made me chuckle for i am not sure quite how long they pay these people to hang around and wait for the stragglers to roll in, for straggler i definitely shall be whether madam ninja likes it or no. 

So as the tender ministrations of Herr Ninja sign me up to running lessons with the female trainer at the gym my face drains of all colour as one time military fitness instructor pipes up that he will train the ninja and i when his counterpart is not available. I’ve been good honest mom!!!  Now i know im not in Kansas any more but never did i dream that OZ would look like this. Time to get jogging down that yellow brick road then with Ninja Panda at my heels pushing me all the way.

Superheroes seem so glamorous dont they? Wouldn’t we all like to have an alter ego to turn us into the heroes of our dreams and to make us all the things we can never be in our less than remarkable lives. 

Yeah thats what i thought too!! Anyone want a Ninja??

10,000 hits!!

Wow i really cannot believe it!! My little world of burble has accumulated 10,000 hits in the 5 months since i started it and still going. I still find it quite amusing that something i started to please my now partner has turned into something i love people to see and i still get excited that people WANT to read it and even sometimes actually like it. 

I had no idea i could write and were it not for the less than subtle nudgings of a certain Vampire i should never have even dreamed of doing so and yes i freely admit i did so to shut him up. As i said long ago, i had imagined that he should read my waffle, cringe politely and then allow me to take it down whilst grudgingly admitting that i could not infact write anything more substantial than a post-it. Okay i guess it helps that i am slightly off the wall and have a rather humorous take on life but i never was cut out to be a sobersides trust me! 

The world according to panda.

So 10,000 hits later i am the one admitting i was wrong ( yes lovely you read that right- i was wrong) and perhaps there is something of a mini writer in me after all. All i know is as long as people are reading this waffle, i shall keep writing it and i am having great fun doing so. I admit there are some days when i panic and think aarrgghh what shall i write?? But now i have learned not to force it and if nothing is there to write, then don’t write it. 

So to my lovely followers and all of the other great people who take the time to read my ramblings, thank-you. Thank-you for sharing in the wonderfully crazy world of Panda, i’m not sure if that makes you as crazy as me but i hope you can live with that. On this note i hear the gym calling and i really must get myself organised( can you believe i can do sit ups now!! – me, sit ups!!) 

Panda over and out 

Invasion of the bodysnatchers

Sooooooooo you’re all expecting a post about the movie right?? Some far out musings of a science fiction nature?? Alas i am afraid you are going to be very disappointed, no aliens (almost) , no sci fi, no mind blowing action. Just a panda who isn’t a panda today.

I have been body snatched. Seriously!!

Its not meant to be obvious, i  look the same and i sound the same but little things will start to give themselves away that i am not really me after all. 6.30am was the start of the clues when the real me would tumble out of bed, stagger in the direction of the scales which would be duly cursed at before heading for morning ablutions. Pretend me opened  one eye, semi registered the time of 8am (see a giveaway, late already) before pulling the covers over my head and burying my face in the pillow. I have no idea what pretend me has been up to for the battery tanks are totally empty and the fuel gauge flashing a warning red. Personally i think they had to replace me in a hurry and didn’t get time to do an overnight charge, everyone knows new electricals need a 16hour charge before use right??

At this point real me would be gaining inspiration from an episode of The Biggest Loser whilst downing breakfast and pre gym coffee but pretend me was still face down in the pillow daydreaming and refusing to move. At least they got one thing right for real me can’t ever go back to sleep once awake and nor it seems can replacement me. Score one on the design front then! Swiftly followed by yet another glaringly obvious mistake since by 10am real me would have transformed into gym ninja and be happily bouncing along the road to the blaring tunes courtesy of Lifehouse, already planning the two hour gym session and humming tunelessly. 

Poor imitation me (i think they shop at Poundland) is slithering from the bed into a heap on the floor and absently noticing a long lost shoe from my unusually floor prone position before crawling in the direction of the smallest room in the house. You’d think they’d have had a little more design etiquette and done away with this tiresome necessity but perhaps there just was no time. Two coffees later (another glaring error) and replacement me is nibbling half heartedly on a rich tea biscuit having skipped breakfast entirely and disinterestedly surveying the prairie outside my back doors and musing the possibility of pretending to be a pioneer for the day. Admittedly the neighbours might stare if i skip outside in a long calico dress and a bonnet and start hitching up a wagon but hey i’m bodysnatched right??

Too much of a giveaway?? Maybe.

So while the real me is killing up in some alien gym somewhere, my other self is floating around on the internet and wondering whether to volunteer to help out my alter ego with a spot of housework. She seems to be pretty tidy this other me so i decide to leave well alone until i am more familiar with the way she works after all if i am to be her i have to act like her right. Still she has quite a few photographs of some good looking guy on her computer which i would rather look at that do her housework if i am honest. Perhaps this bodysnatching thing might be fun after all!! 

I must be very careful and not do anything too out of the ordinary for her since this will be sure to be noticed. Common sense tells me that perhaps hiding out here for reconnaissance purposes will be most adviseable at this point in time so for now i am going to lay low and survey my position. Stay tuned for further installments on the invasion of the bodysnatchers and be alert for we are everywhere. You never know when we might come for YOU!!

Conversations with an electronic system

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Today i had the misfortune to need to telephone the tax office, a task i admit i had been putting off due to the total rigmarole involved in past experiences. This type of call is no simple matter and after several attempts i was no closer to getting my call answered than if i had not bothered to dial at all. These phone lines are most cleverly sneaky i should add and far from dialling and ringing you are subjected to the press one for this, press 2 for that palaver, all the while racking up the costs on your telephone bill. To make matters worse each section has vast amounts of do’s dont’s, general rules and reams of information that only serve to draw the call out longer, most of which would be more appropriate on a separate helpline since most is totally irrelevant to you. 

6 minutes into the call i am trying to stifle a yawn when finally the section i want comes up and i press the number for my chosen option. The now annoying voice informs me my call will now be transferred and i roll my eyes and think ‘FINALLY’ .Ten seconds later the voice is back  informing me that my call cannot be taken since they are too busy! okay so at this point i am quite cross, why could they not have said this in the first place instead of charging me to listen to a load of rubbish i wasn’t interested in. But then they are incredibly savvy since they are fully aware we have no choice but to call and jump gleefully on the opportunity to make money from this by clever systems and high charge call rates. 

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5 attempts later and the result was much the same so i decided to be smart and press the option for a totally different section and then plead dumb once the call was answered. Oddly enough this call had far more success and i was placed in a queue with tasteless tinny music being filtered down the line. Huge sigh and i decided to float around the internet whilst waiting and jammed the phone between my shoulder and my ear thus leaving my hands free to type. Sometime later with definite crick developing in my neck and my right ear giving off heat worthy of a swedish sauna, i was getting rather bored with the distorted echoey music yet stubbornly resisting the urge to hang up and try again later.

”Hello Tax helpline can i help you”

YES!! finally a real human voice and thankfully a male one this time for i was rather tired of hearing the silly woman on the looped recordings and would have quite happily have listened to Mickey Mouse rather than that. Putting on my best voice i announced that i wasn’t sure if i was in the right place for i had gotten a little confused (cue silly little giggle to emphasise point) Now i am far from being this dumb but he wasn’t to know that. Since this achieved my object i wasn’t going to feel one bit guilty about it and i set about launching into my details. 10 minutes later and business concluded i heaved a sigh of relief that the dreaded deed was done and i could stay away from the diabolical helpline debacle until the following year. 

Whatever happened to the days of speaking to human beings?? In our electronically enlightened society are we really so advanced when this is the best lines of communication that we can manage? Personally i will take hearing a real voice minus all the press this and that anytime and i thank goodness my official call quota is minimal. 

Oh and to my little imp of a best friend, if you say press one for this and press two for that the next time i call you i shall throttle you 😛   yes i know you!! Love you 🙂

On dating and being a muse

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I like to hope i am reasonably intelligent and articulate and i freely admit i am drawn to those similar to myself. I personally find intelligence a very appealing quality and will inevitably be drawn to this rather than looks although admittedly finding someone who is also aesthetically pleasing is a bonus in dating circles.  Alas the world i live in brings me into contact with such people most infrequently and most often my only source of intelligent conversation is one of my marathon phone calls with my gorgeously handsome best friend. 

As you can imagine it was rather refreshing to strike up a conversation with a gentleman of looks, wit and intelligence and unusually i found him rather interesting to talk to. Importantly also he could spell which after the text talk or badly spelt missives i usually receive was rather a pleasant change. Such a change also not to have to go through the rigmarole of 

”hi hows you, what do you do”

When you have replied to this kind of message for about the hundredth time believe me it gets wearing and it is very tempting to have some prewritten response that you just send to everyone who asks it. No this particular gentleman was different for he had taken time to read my profile and consequently had far more interesting things to say and also the talent of conversation.  Suffice it to say i was rather surprised when, having messaged to say he had to log off, he dropped me a short message that said i had inspired him and was his muse and as a result he had written a diary entry.

ME?? A Muse???? 

Oh how wonderfully, artistically romantic is that?? Hmmmm but then the small thought appeared that i had not seen this piece yet and it could possibly not be favourable as i was anticipating. Well wouldn’t you know it the wheels of dating were moving incredibly slowly as i awaited the required review by the powers that be and i drummed my fingers for quite some time. What if it was terrible and he had named me in it? I would have to emigrate and go and live in some remote outpost of the world!! Okay so im being dramatic but still it would mean a lot of keeping my head down and hiding from obvious censure. 

At last!! The text in question appeared on the screen and i have to admit i was impressed and i could see from which point in our conversation his observations had stemmed. Was i flattered? Well yes, of course, for far more appealing than being told you are gorgeous is the realisation that someone has listened to something you have said and it has made an impact upon them. Of course i am not so unwomanly as to not be flattered when someone tells me i am attractive, indeed far from it but i much prefer more substance to someones interactions with me. 

Fancy that, me a muse!!

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Whilst i highly doubt this will rank me up there with the Mona Lisa and yes i shall probably never speak to this particular gentleman again i have to admit i am rather tickled that i should inspire anyone at all. 

Me a muse? How Amusing!!!

Only in England

Finally after weeks of uncharacteristic rain worthy of an Indian monsoon we finally get to see a little sun here, two whole days in a row and hopefully counting. Whilst temperatures in England may be far from the norm for this time of year it is nonetheless pleasantly warm and skies of a glorious blue. For many it is a relief to put away the umbrella, shrug off the coats and woolly sweaters and bask in the rays of a long forgotten sun. 

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But this is after all England and we would not be so very English were it not for our quirks and oddities that in any other country would raise an eyebrow or be distinctly frowned upon. 7am on a Sunday morning and child next door is outside in a paddling pool screeching and bellowing at the top of his voice waking those who, having worked hard all week, are enjoying a Sunday morning lie in. Not for much longer it seems. Yes the sun is out but it is far from pool weather especially at such a time of day but as is so typical of us the first sign of sun prompts us to behave as though we had suddenly become a country much more tropical than we are.                    

                                                      

Everywhere girls parade in outfits so tiny as to be almost non-existent, clothing more worthy of some Caribbean beach than a less temperate day in the far milder west. To their favour my last boyfriend adored these much younger scantily clad girls and had perfected the art of double take and 270 degree turns of the head in a most impressive way. Chance it to say that being so very typically English has its merits for some after all. 

Next comes the supermarket, now this has only brought me here in search of a pint of milk for my coffee but is already packed with shoppers fighting frantically over the last package of bread rolls for the requisite barbecue on an English day with some semblance of sun. Overweight men, shirtless and sweating parade the aisles shuffling along in the flip flops they are so unused to wearing but which are rapidly dusted off as the day looks set to be fine. This is not a sight i wish to see and should i go to any other country i expect i would not but here it is just another average sight. Oblivious and totally uncaring as to how they appear to others, red faced and already grumbling about the heat yet it is not yet the hottest part of the day.

So funny a race we British, we complain constantly about the rain or the snow and welcome the sun with all the abandon of welcoming a lover after a long absence yet so very rapidly we revert to type and grumble instead over the heat and the lack of breeze. After many weeks of rain and constant wishing for sun from the masses, ironically, should the weather hold, in a few days time the wishes will be the total reverse. You cannot help but laugh and wonder if it is just in the nature of we English to need something to grumble about and surmise that as a result we should never be happy no matter which situation should present itself. 

As i go about my daily business today i cannot deny i shall be tipping my face up to the sun and enjoying the warmth of it while it is here but as much as i enjoy a barbecue i shall not be battling the queues for a fight over supplies. Should it rain tomorrow i shall not mind that at all so perhaps i am not so typically English as all that. I wonder are we the only ones to have such typical behaviour or if it is a norm that occurs everywhere wherever we go. 

I wonder

In a different place and time

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 We all interact, meeting others on a daily basis that we barely register, lives intertwining however briefly and yet in essence even these small encounters have an effect upon the paths our lives will take. What if we hadn’t met a certain person at a certain time, would our lives have been so very different?? Would we even be here at all? Imagine if we hadnt stopped to let someone cross the road, or we hadnt been at a particular place at the very moment we were? What would our lives be like now?

An old boyfriend of mine used to say to me, after we broke up,that he wished we had met ten years earlier than we did and then things would have worked out, he seemed so certain of this at the time. I must admit i did ponder this rather a lot and debated the truth of his words. What if i HAD met him ten years earlier, long before he got himself into his unhappy situation?I did try hard to picture this and although i could clearly picture myself as i had been then i had great difficulty picturing him, i did not know the person he was back then so i had nothing to work with. Yet for sure there would have been no obstacles such as there were when i actually did meet him but would we have worked out?? I confess as much as i would have liked to answer this question in the affirmative i found that i could not for my logic prompted me that we were not the people back then that we were when we actually did meet. 

For myself i am a big believer in fate and i truly think that the people we meet are for a purpose and that they have some part to play in our destiny however brief it may be. I have thought in the past that the reason i met a certain person was simply because i was meant to, at that exact point in time because this is the point in which they were needed in my life. Perhaps the reasons were not always obvious as to why but i only know that it was so. Of course it would be wrong to assume that all these points of destiny are positive ones, indeed they are not but those also have a part in shaping us into who we are however briefly and whilst we may be quicker to discard those than the more positive it is nonetheless all part of the destiny we are intended for. 

Just occasionally you meet someone that you know in all logic you should never have met within the course of your life but some spark of fate brings them into your path in one great miraculous twist. These are the ones you know destiny had in store for your life all along and was just waiting for that exactly perfect time to introduce them to you and these are the ones that are the most special of all. No there is little you can do about destiny, i firmly believe that what will be will be and there is little we can do about the path that is meant for us. But all the better a path to walk when fate decides to send along a fellow traveller to make the journey just that little bit more worth it. 

If you want something doing…..

As the mother of two mid and late teens you would think life would be pretty easy right? All those extra hands to share the chores, a cup of coffee made for me when i am studying or extra busy?

WRONG!!!

These two delightful offspring of mine barely know one end of a duster from the other and never would it occur to them to lend a hand. My son, the elder of the two, will do something for me if i ask but at 19 and Autistic the degree of effort depends on how quick a chore it is and how boring he considers it to be. Dear son has sarcastic grumbling under his breath down to such a fine art that we nicknamed him Victor Meldrew!!

Dear daughter number 2, the youngest at 16, is very reluctant to do anything unless the question of remuneration should arise. If i come home and she has voluntarily done chores i am instantly on my guard since i can pretty much guarantee that some request for funds will follow in the near future. Welcome to Bank of Panda..please insert your card!!

I have pondered the fact that is my own fault for being so exacting, for i tend to be rather fussy and if something isnt done perfectly i tend to go and do it myself, i hate mess it drives me crazy. It is a long running joke in our family that when someone claims something is clean the retort is always

”Would that be your kind of clean, or my kind of clean??” 

So today as a strange yellow thing was shining in the sky i asked Dear Son to cut the front grass for me since we were in danger of being listed as a local nature reserve and the resulting sigh from upstairs should have easily shaken the rafters. My excellent hearing picked up the muttered grumble which preceded a delayed emergence from its source. To his credit Dear Son did actually cut the grass although the result looked rather like it had been chewed by a herd of Wildebeest. As he plodded back into the house a trail of grass followed prompting me to go outside and look. Grass everywhere!! From my front door to the bottom of my driveway looked like a grass bomb had exploded, a far cry from the immaculate frontages of the neighbouring houses. 

To say Dear Son was most unimpressed when i asked him to go outside and sweep it up was an understatement and watching his half hearted effort prompted me to open the door and say

”SWEEP it dont tickle it”

”I AM sweeping it!!”

Hmmmmm. Yes again fussy me took over and i took the brush, rapidly sweeping the pathway to the door informing very impatient son that THIS is how you sweep. Back in the house i noticed yet again half hearted sweeping and called for Dear Daughter 2 to assist her brother. Well have you ever seen a fairy sweep a garden?? Picture one and you have the right idea. Tiptoeing carefully around the grass with brush held delicately between fingertips she flitted around managing little better than Victor Meldrew who was at this point rolling his eyes and tutting. 

Cue Panda impatience and brush was whipped from Fairy fingers and rapid sweeping of the drive was undertaken with the announcement to said children that there was this strange thing called EFFORT required. 5 minutes later MY eyes were rolling as i sighed and swept it up myself before retreating into the house for coffee leaving grumpy and fairy to bin the pile of rubbish i’d made. Surely they could manage THAT!!

I have rapidly come to the conclusion that for the most part if you want something doing in my house it is far better to do it yourself unless you are prepared to live with less than perfect results. I dread to think how these little darlings will live when they leave home and i have already informed them that i will most definitely not be coming to their houses for tea until i reach the point where i am considering euthanasia and need a quick exit from this world. 

Ahhh well i made my bed i guess i have to lie in it, perhaps i should have been far stricter when they were small and set a regimen of chores such i had myself when i was young. Logic tells me that even had i done so this would all have gone out of the window when my little angels mutated into carnage evoking teen demons so perhaps i can console myself with this. So as fairy skips off down the street and Victor retreats to the safety of his room and the computer games within, i make my own coffee and comfort myself with the smug knowledge that one day they will be parents to teens of their own and mommy will sit and have a little chuckle. Revenge will be very sweet!! 

Perhaps i should feel mean but i dont!!

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Evening is rolling in and i’m sitting trying to study, my stomach is growling to be fed but im determined to finish this section before i set my work aside. Perhaps it is a heavy workload but i am studying Business and Admin and also taking a Proof Reading and Editorial course, the latter of which occupies my attention and is rather complicated. 

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!

This is my front door knocker being hammered against the door with force enough to make it shake upon its hinges. I do not need to answer the door to know who it is for i can hear a very loud bullmoose voice bellowing outside but i am busy working so i choose not to answer. 

”There’s nobody in”

Footsteps fade and i sigh and continue my work and have read no more than five lines when..

BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG!!!

The bullmoose voice is back and is nothing if not persistent. My eyebrows raise as i hear the letter box open and the voice, louder now as the person looks through my letter box to see if i am home. GO AWAY!! i think furiously, although conscience niggles that perhaps i am being mean. 

BANG BANG BANG BANG (door kick) BANG BANG

Yes you can bet for sure i am rather annoyed now as i reread the same sentence for the third time. So who is hammering so furiously upon my door? Ah well this is easy it is the child next door.

At first i would always answer when this child kicked his ball over my back fence for i have children and my own when small have mistakenly kicked their ball into a neighbours garden before now. Rather differently i would never let them knock on the door to ask for it back but instead told them that if they had been careless enough to let it go over then they would have to wait until the person chose to throw it back , if they even did. 

But nevertheless i would at first answer to this child and obligingly retrieve the ball from my garden which received neither apology nor thanks. Shortly after the ball would come sailing back over the fence and the hammering on the door would commence with a loud request to get the ball back. This child does not have a volume switch, actually he does but it consists of loud and very loud and of an evening i have to close my door and windows in order to hear my tv but i try and remind myself that he is after all a child.

After repeated retrievings of the ball i began to get rather fed up especially since my garden has been very waterlogged for some weeks now and sploshing around in it for a ball is not my idea of fun and i politely asked him not to kick it over and informed him that if he did it would have to stay there until i went outside for something. 

BANG BANG BANG BANG KICK KICK BANG (letterbox opens again)

I know, i know perhaps the easy way would be to go and fetch the ball and thereby cease the kicking and hammering at my door but irritation is prompting me to throw the door wide and bellow ‘ STOP kicking that bl@@dy door’   I may think it but i would not do this and i try my best to ignore it. Footsteps fade again and the child takes up residence upon my driveway with friend in tow kicking another football back and forth thumping it repeatedly against my garage door and house wall. Sometimes i wish i were not so nice natured for i should dearly love to shout as neighbours would have had i behaved so when small and rightly so. 

After six attempts to hammer my door down coupled with frequent peering through my letter box there is finally silence as it seems for now at least he has given up. Of course i will return the ball when i or one of the family does go outside i am not so mean as all that but if i should feel guilty for not answering my door and fetching it when he wished then i’m afraid i do not. I was always taught manners and respect cost nothing even from a very young age and had i hammered on our neighbours doors in that way when i was small you can guarantee i would have felt my mothers hand and further been hauled next door to apologise. 

So do i feel mean?? NO!! 

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