Christ on a Bike!

Leaving work today I found this in my bike basket:


It’s not my birthday, it’s not in the handwriting of anyone I know and, as far as I could tell, my bike didn’t have any new scratches/parts missing to warrant an apology note. But my bike is quite cute, if you like beat-up-vintage. Maybe it was a fan note to my bike. A love letter from someone with a dull job and too much time on their hands. Which would have been a bit weird, but cute.


Instead it was this:



Okaaaay. Not cute; just weird.

Now, because my bike was the last on the rack, I don’t know if this was a serial drop (although that’s a handwritten card and not a cheap one either, so if someone’s seeking to convert the town’s cyclists that’s going to take some time and money. And I’m not sure Jesus lets you claim expenses, no matter how much you love Him). Or whether I was a targeted err target. In which case, does my bike cry out for religious conversion?


Or does Heaven just have some kick-arse cycle routes?

Although, in that case, why the Mini on the card? Is whoever also trying to convert us to the automotive? Is cycling one of the sins I should repent? I don’t remember Jesus mentioning cycling in the Bible.

Whatever. The one thing I should probably be converted to is driving to work!

Two Pieces?

Dear Mr Wonka

I’ve had a bar of your delicious Millionaire’s Shortbread chocolate sat on my dressing table since the weekend, ready to use as a prop for Boo’s World Book Day Veruca Salt costume. As it turns out, Boo didn’t need a World Book Day costume as her spoilsport school decided they didn’t need the kids to dress up (seemingly the only school in town to make such a dull-arse decision for all the Red Riding Hoods and Elsas walking to the other schools this morning). But anyway, that bar’s sat there since Saturday.

My God, it’s been a challenge not to eat it!

Whilst I was just looking at it though (wondering how to make a golden ticket at the 11th hour if necessary…ok, wondering if I could eat it and replace it if necessary) the following struck me as weird:


111 calories per 2 pieces.

Who on Earth on eats just two pieces of a chocolate bar?!

There are in fact TEN squares to a Wonka bar. Why the song and dance? (Well, apart from you are very good at singing and dancing – the West End show was enthralling!) Why not just admit that there’s a whopping great 555 calories in a Wonka bar?

Whose deluding themselves with the 2 pieces suggestion and the note on the back that the packet is resealable? We all know that once that wrapper’s open the bar’s as good as gone.

Apparently (according to the Mail Online – and we know how I feel about them!) your target market is ‘women in their 30s and 40s.’ We know better than to leave an open chocolate bar lying around. Eat it like a female Augustus Gloop or discover some other bastard’s eaten it.

Ah, bless ’em. The Daily Mail got their knickers in a twist over this too.

We’re also more likely to look at that little calorie indicator than your average child/male/still naturally skinny twenty-something. But we’re also not stupid.

So fess up that your chocolate’s the calorie-equivalent of a meal. Chances are we’ll just skip lunch and eat the chocolate anyway.



A Letter to My Soon-to-be-Ex Boss


Dear Soon-to-be-Ex-Boss

Thank you for dropping by the office today. Thank you for confirming why I’m glad to be leaving.

My head has been swirling for the past couple of weeks. Swirling because I love my job. I love the people, the properties, the brand. But I don’t appreciate being treated like a pawn, something to be moved around at will.


And I was meant to be the ‘lucky’ one. The one picked to stay, against people who have committed themselves to your company for years, compared with my months. And yet you let them go without consoltation. Are you crazy?

Maybe they weren’t flexible enough. Maybe you should have asked them. Maybe they told you the truth more than you’d like. Maybe you should have kept your own ego in check.


And the thing is, if you see your colleagues being unceremoniously dumped your trust wanes. How was I to know that I wouldn’t be next? I don’t like being vulnerable.

It didn’t help that you wouldn’t lay your cards on the table with regards to my job. One second you wanted me to work full-time. The next you just wanted me on a Saturday. Then it was ‘part-time that could be extended to full-time’ (with the implication that if i couldn’t meet your requirements then I’d be going the same way as the others, no matter how good I was at my job). ‘You’re a mushroom,’ my friend said, ‘You’re being kept in the dark.’ It turns out that I’m a bit scared of the dark.


Or maybe, actually, I’m more of an egg, as I’ve been poached. Someone has seen how hard I work, how good I am at my job. And they’ve offered me a job that suits me. It won’t have the same prestige – it’ll be residential lettings, more basic properties, no more swanky pads with boot rooms and annexes, limestone flooring and swimming pools. But I’ll get to work in a supportive team with hours that fit around the school run and a boss who won’t mess me around or be offended if I offer an opinion.

It’s a no-brainer really. But I didn’t want to let you down. More to the point I didn’t want to let the new staff down, leaving them short-staffed whilst they found their feet. Not that that bothered you. You went on holiday, refusing to answer emails whilst still sending out dictates that messed everyone around.

And still I dithered. I felt I’d got the hang of things and now I’m back to square one. I’m sad that I won’t get to learn more from your company.

Even though I watched the new staff get new computers and my own computer disappear along with my email signature, I dithered. Even though the newbies were given information that had never been passed to me, I dithered.

I dithered…until today. You came into the office and barely acknowledged me. Everyone else went for coffee, but not me. Had you talked to me, reassured me in your plans, maybe I would have stayed. I’m not bailing because the transition is difficult. I’m leaving because you’ve treated me as if I’m lower than the low.

I felt like a spare part today and I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I change desk within the building, to be with people who want me and who are ready to value me.

You didn’t value me, and so I’m off.

In the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: ‘Big mistake. Big. Huge.’


Ultimately, it seems appropriate that on the day Scotland decided whether to stay or go, I came to my own resolute decision. And although there’s lots that I’ll miss – the people, the properties, the brand – I’m not sorry.

No longer yours,

Spot the Difference

The following is an email I’ve just sent to RMS International, who seemingly think it’s ok to diddle their customers by passing two things off as the same thing. As these customers are, by and large, children, this seems to me to be particularly bad form (even if most Loomz bands end up sucked up the Hoover having been scattered around the floor. But it’s the principle, hence the complaint.

Hi there,

Imagine the scenario: you’re buying party favours for your daughter’s birthday. You’re shopping with said daughter and a toddler in tow. You want 10 packets of Loomz bands (because what 7-year-old girl doesn’t love the elastic band craze at the moment?), preferably something that matches the Fairy theme. You go to The Entertainer, looking at the Loomz display, trying to stop your toddler from escaping out of the door, or your daughter from trying to get other things in the basket.

You spot packets of Glitter bands on a hook amongst the display. Perfect! You grab 10 packets from the hook and go to the till. You pay ¬£1 each for the packs. (You then drag the kids, whingeing around Sainsbury’s, but that’s by-the-by, but highlights that shopping isn’t necessarily a time for careful, contemplative purchasing.)

You then sort the party bags…and you realise that not all of the packets ARE the same. Despite being the same size and same packaging you discover that give of the packets contain ‘300 bands, 24 s-clips and hook’ whilst the other packets only contain ‘250 bands and 15 s-clips.’


How do you feel? Disproportionately diddled perhaps? A tad annoyed? I do. I know that it’s only a matter of pennies, but over those five packets I’ve lost out on 250 bands, 45 s-clips and 5 hooks. Moreover, I’ve unintentionally now been unfair to my daughter’s party guests.

I know it’s only a small matter, but when an international company is playing games of Spot the Difference with kids, well, that’s really not playing fair.

Kind regards


PS Just as a heads-up I will also be posting this letter on my blog,

Foot Note


Dear Feet

Sorry, but I think you and I need to have a word.

It has to be said that I rely on you to keep me grounded. Ok, you and gravity. And balance. You’re the holy trinity of keeping me upright. And, up until now you’ve done a pretty good job.

I’ll forgive you the time you went from underneath me whilst I carried my 21st birthday cake. It was snowy and slippery as Hell. (Is Hell slippery? Really, I wouldn’t have thought so: surely all that fire and brimstone would have seen to any icy conditions?)

Oh, and there was the time you saw fit to land me on my arse when I got my first pair of rollerskates…just as I had my photo taken. The ONE TIME whoever took the picture managed NOT to cut me out of the frame!

(For the benefit of my bloggy readers I honestly don’t know the location of the actual picture right now, but believe me, it’s etched onto my retinas with humiliation.)

You’d have thought I’d have leant my roller skating lesson in that moment, but obviously not.

But back to my point, minor slip-ups aside (sorry, I couldn’t not do it) you’ve done a pretty good job. I am naturally clumsy, but I don’t actually fall fully arse over tit all that often. Well done.

Except until recently, that is.

Since my flight down the neighbours’ stairs you’ve really not done such a brilliant job. I’m sure I managed to break my middle toe today after you decided that staying vertical whilst unexpectedly traversing a puddle of water in the utility room this morning.

Husband: I partly mopped it up.
Me: What?! Why not completely mop it up, then I’d have ten functioning, pain-free toes?!
Less mop-it, more muppet. Jeez.

So, it wasn’t entirely your fault, but you didn’t handle it well. Although in fairness, right foot, it’s you whose now suffering the most. But honestly, I’d have thought you’d have taken it as a lesson learned.

But just now, in the shower you definitely struggled. No one wants to have anything that may need medical assistance to happen in the shower. It’s when I really want you to be on it when it comes to maintaining the vertical.

I understand that the circumstances were harder than normal. I don’t know what’s in Nivea In-Shower Moisturiser, but if Hell is short on ice then this stuff will sort its grip-resistant needs. It’s not normal to climb in the shower and literally slide. But it was a tension-filled showering experience. I feel my trust in you has been knocked somewhat.

I’d like to be able to have faith in you, heart and sole. Please don’t let me (fall) down. In exchange I’ll paint your nails better and I’ll finally get round to buffing that hard skin off, I promise.

Keep standing.

GSM xx

Dear Saturday Night Out

Dear Saturday Night Out

Hello. You might remember me. You and I used to be on close terms in my late teens and early twenties, but to be honest it’s been a while. With two small kids who have to be babysat and a Husband whose pretty much rubbish at said ‘babysitting’ (is it technically ‘babysitting’ when it’s your own children?) I don’t get out much of an evening.

Which may be why I had such a rubbish time as things have changed – and when I say ‘things’ I really mean mostly ‘me’. But it’s so why I’m so completely disappointed that I had such a rubbish time. When I do go out I want it to be special.

Maybe I just wasn’t feeling it tonight. It used to be that I could spend the whole of Saturday getting ready for a night out. There’d be a new dress, hours spent on hair and make-up whilst watching Blind Date and drinking a few Diamond Whites before hitting the bars and clubs. I’d be part of a gang, we’d know other people when we were out. We’d stumble back and stay up til the small hours and chat about God-knows-what. It may have only been a small town, but we felt like we owned it.

Today it was an afternoon spent at my mother-in-law’s, a delayed bus and dash into town for a birthday present (work + small children + shop opening hours = last minute panic). Then back to cook for Husband and kids, but NOT myself as the smallest was mid-full-blown tantrum and had to be distracted into eating his cheesy mash.

Getting ready was with an audience of the children, the youngest distracted with my phone, me keeping one eye on him in case he got delete-button-happy with my photos (it’s been known) whilst shaving my legs, using Husband’s razor and hair conditioner as my own razor has gone missing (thanks to eldest daughter ‘borrowing’ mine). Meanwhile youngest daughter laughed hysterically along to Peppa Pig, whilst demanding things. ‘Mummy. Mummy. MUMMY.’ Still, I applied make-up for you. I put in contact lenses for you. Needless to say, I ended up running late.

By the time I’d been ripped off with my taxi fare, to be fair, I wasn’t really in the party spirit.

The Pimm’s had already been quaffed by the time I’d arrived. I would have loved a Pimm’s. Not being a regular drinker, I don’t have the skills to negotiate the most suitable drink for the situation and went for my default of gin and tonic. I can only drink so much gin before I lose the will to stay awake.

But never mind. It was my friend’s birthday. I could suck it up. It was pleasant, all of us sat together outside as dusk fell. It’s just a shame someone invited the gnats along to the party.

We were driven inside. Not a good move. When I go out I like to talk – I haven’t caught up with these people in months. There were no small children around for once. We could talk in full sentences. So I don’t want to be drowned out by a mobile disco. I accept that that puts me in the ‘old’ category, but I didn’t intend to have to spend the evening shouting to the person sat next to or nodding along to words I can’t hear just to be polite. My friends are witty people. I want to hear what they have to say, not the cheesy DJ with the mic.


I also don’t necessarily need to watch people ram their tongues down someone else’s throat, become vicariously involved in someone’s domestic argument or have hotpant under hang in my line of vision all night.

Plus I’ve become too used to my comfy shoes to be tripping my way to my friend’s house in heels once time has been called. Still, at least I avoided the extortionate cab fare home.

So I guess I don’t mind that we won’t be seeing each other again for a while. I’m actually quite happy with my pyjamas and an early night as my regular Saturday night routine.

I know it’s not you, it’s me. You’re just there, doing what you’ve always done and will always continue to do. The things I’ve come to want out of a night out have changed. Maybe I need to shake things up a bit. Start going to more mature venues with an emphasis on food rather than booze, ambience rather than tinnitus-inducing-tunes. Maybe, Saturday night out, I need to accept that you’re not for me any more.

And now I have Gloria Gaynor whirling in my head…which really proves that I’m too old.

At first I was afraid I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
Thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along
And so you’re back
from outer space
I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second you’d be back to bother me
Go on now go, walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
Do you think I’d crumble
Did you think I’d lay down and die?

Oh no not I. I will survive
Oh as long as I know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive
I will survive! Hey, Hey!

Thanks for the good times, but I’m moving on.


The Ugly Bug Bawl

Dear Spiders et al

I think I’ve been pretty patient up til now, but I’ve had enough. I can’t take your constant presence in my life any more – particularly on these summer days, be they hot and humid or wet and muggy. It doesn’t really seem to matter whatever the weather, you’re always there. And enough is enough.

Could you please decide where you would like to be: inside or outside! I’m pretty sure that you’d prefer it outside. You’d have to take your chances with birds and other predators, but you wouldn’t risk death by vacuum, Nutella jar or being trodden on. (I’m looking at you in particular on that one, slugs – I accept that it must be worse for you to meet a sticky end, squished by a giant Python-esque foot, but it’s really never pleasant for me either and you do such a good job of surprising me with your presence it’s always too late.)


I would be pretty much happy to leave you to get on with catching and eating each other outside. As it is I’m wary of any sort of bush as there’s inevitably a web running across it with a damn great spider sat in the middle. Or a host of aphids trundling along stems and leaves. Or gnats swarming en masse ready for their pound of flesh.


I’m happy to stick to wide open spaces for my own personal space. I don’t need to shove my head into bushes and trees. A patch of grass, or even paving, that’s fine. Much as I don’t go swimming with sharks and have thus far found that they’ve completely left me alone, if I don’t intrude on your patch, I don’t expect you to intrude on mine. And as such, although I’m happy to sacrifice pretty much all foliage for your use I’d appreciate it if you could leave the plastic chairs and play equipment alone. If it’s man made then it should be considered out if bounds.

But mostly, for the love of God, please please leave the house to us. Apparently you’re never more than three feet away from a spider. No kidding! From the webs that hang from the coving, the shelf by the kitchen sink, from door frames, in the fireplace and under tables, you are literally everywhere.

I mean, thank you for getting rid of flies and all, but if they went into the garden then couldn’t you too? Instead of lurking under the skirting board and in the kitchen cupboards and crawling from bedding. I mean, seriously, what’s wrong with you? Creep up on us like that and you’re just asking to be crushed. Can that many of you really be suicidal

And we know you must be laughing at us as you make your way across the wall or ceiling towards us. Always TOWARDS us. You know we’re thinking ‘You’re going to fall. You’re going to fall RIGHT ON TOP OF ME! Right on top of me WHILST I SLEEP!!!‘ Even though we sort of know you’re not. Unless we’ve looked up ‘spider horror stories’ on Google. Then we’ll be 100% convinced you’re just waiting to fall into our open, slumbering mouths.

I was once told that you spiders have to stop walking as they make their way across the floor/wall/ceiling/bath tub because you can’t both walk and breathe at the same time. But I don’t buy it. More like you can’t walk and taunt us at the same time.

Does it feel like I’m picking on you, spiders? Believe me, I’m not. You silverfish, with your preference for kitchen skulking and your wriggling ways can go away too. And slugs, what is it with our house? On a wet night you’d think we were the epicentre for a zombie slug apocalypse – masses of you slowly zoning in on our house. Possibly they’re truly the undead souls of Slugfest 1997, in which a tub of salt and the drunken antics of my parents and the neighbours left our garden the scene of a slug massacre, I plead my innocence on that one, so please now leave us alone.


I honestly think you should take your cue, all of you, from bees and butterflies. They don’t want to be trapped inside a house. As soon as they’re in they’re gasping to get out again. That’s just as it should be. Although a heads up, you guys – and flies too – no matter how’s my times you bang into it you’re NEVER going to get through the invisible force field that is glass.

Oh, and although it’s too late now, I’d like to clarify that I was trying to help the flying beetle type thing out of the patio door rather than into the web of that spider. I’m really sorry. The spider must have thought it was its lucky day having home deliveries made for lunch, but I really didn’t mean it to be that way. If it’s any consolation your death looked quick, if not painless. That spider was onto you like a shot! But then again, if you’d just stuck to being outside I wouldn’t have tried to help you out.


I’m really not going to change my mind on this matter. No matter how many times I’m subjected to the over-excited shriekings of Jess on CBeebies, I won’t be swayed. ‘Feelers out. What’s about?’ Believe me, I really don’t want to know!


But what I just want to do is to be able to open a window and let some air in without the invitation extending to any and all bug life. In the words of Johnny in Dirty Dancing, ‘This is my space, this is your space.’ Now, GET OUT OF MY SPACE and stop putting spiders in the corner!!!

I’ll let you continue to have complete access to all campers however. There is nothing so hideous as waking in your sleeping bag to find yourself joined by all manner of six-legged life forms, but at the same, those who can’t be bothered to have paid for walls as part of their deal on holiday have really just brought it on themselves.

Bugs, you’re welcome. Now, do we have a deal? (Please say we have a deal!)

Kind regards
(at least for now – fail me on this and it will be WAR ON BUGS!)


An open letter to Mr Lucas…

…and the other drunks who think it’s ok to smash other people’s property because they themselves are smashed.

(Not so) Dear Mr Lucas

Last night I had two policemen knock on my door as I was going to bed. That’s not what you want on a Friday night. It certainly wasn’t what I wanted. Especially when the police told me that their knocking was because YOU had decided to knock my wing mirror off.

Why did you do that? Why?

For the same reason that other people have snapped off wing mirrors, kicked over bins, peed in doorways, shouted and sworn their way down the street and even walked over the top of a previous car. (There’s nothing quite like seeing footprints up the bonnet and onto the roof of your car. Whoever did that certainly beat YOU, Mr Lucas, in the originality stakes.) But, I suspect you all did it for the same reason: mindless drunkeness. Because there’s no logical reason to do stuff like that.

But what made YOU different, Mr Lucas, is that the police caught you.

So there I sat, at 1am, in my living room giving a statement in my dressing gown. The policeman in charge asked if I felt emotionally distressed at you vandalising my car. No, not distressed. But there’s no box to tick for ‘pissed off.’

There really should be a box for ‘pissed off’.

Although I suppose my night wasn’t any worse than yours. At least once the police left I was free to go to my own bed. I wasn’t sent to a cell ready to wake up to the mother of all hangovers.

No, instead I woke up to survey the mess.


It could have been worse. In the past it has been worse. At least the actual mirror is in tact, not to mention the wires. For now duct tape has stopped it from flapping, although it’s not a classy look.

Still, I was told that the police would talk to you and as you had already admitted your guilt, even though you were worse for wear, I’d at least be compensated for the cost of a new wing mirror. It’d still be a pain in the arse, but at least for once I wouldn’t be out of pocket just because you decided to vent some drunken frustration on my car.

At least that would be something.

But then the police called again this lunchtime. Over a terrible phone signal I found out that you had been in such a state last night that you couldn’t properly remember what you had done, but you had been intimidated and scared by being held in the cell for the night. You were remorseful.

That’s nice.

But it wasn’t much use to me. Because your remorse earned you a caution. Which meant that all I got was a crime number.

No recompense for you breaking my wing mirror.

I can claim through my insurance. But that is surely tantamount to me paying myself. Because if there’s anyone more crooked than the actual criminals it’s the insurance companies who will look for any loophole NOT to pay up and because a claim being made raises the premiums either way. Just as they did when a previous car partially melted by pure bad luck of parking it next to a car that caught/was set alight in the middle of the night. Even though I’ve changed insurance companies since then I’m still being screwed for that one. So, no, I WON’T be claiming for your actions.

Either way I’m shortchanged. You’ve got off scot free and I’m left to sort out the mess you left behind. How is that fair?

How does that demonstrate your remorsefulness? When I’ve (accidentally/drunkenly) broken somebody else’s property I’ve offered to pay for its replacement. You offered nothing. I’m put out because I own the car you chose to pick on. You just make your merry way home, nothing more than your tail between your legs and a story to recount on your next big night out.

Can the ‘pissed off’ box be changed to ‘really REALLY pissed off’? And then can I put a MASSIVE tick in it?

A broken wing mirror isn’t crime of the century, but the principle of of it has me riled. Meanwhile you probably think you dodged a bullet. Perhaps you’ve been out drinking to celebrate.

But maybe next time, before you see fit to kick somebody else’s property to bits, have some respect and don’t bother.

The Gluestick Mum

How I Met Your Father


Dear Noodles and Boo,

Following Date Night last night, I’m feeling in a generous mood towards Husband for a change. So when Daily Prompt wanted to know the magnetic forces of fate that brought me and your father together I thought I’d jump on board and remind myself of my mistake tell our little tale.

The year was 1997. I was studying Psychology with the Open University and part of the course I was on required a week at summer school. I plumped for Durham (as it was the furthest option away from home) and set off for a week of lectures and experiments and excessive drinking not offered by the nature of distance learning.

It’s scary turning up somewhere alone, not knowing anyone, but that first night, in the bar, I got chatting to a group on the same course. A single parent to Eve and Indy at the time, I was introduced to a tall, dark-haired man who, it was pointed out, just happened to be a single-dad. Okaaaay. Awkward. There weren’t any fireworks of attraction and I don’t think we spoke much that evening. We were both doing the same course, but as so many people were everyone had been split into two groups and he was in the other one to me. We were both staying in the same building though.

The next morning in my group we became both student and human guinea pig, taking various listening tests to explore how the brain processes information. It turned out I was rather good at dichotic listening. I claimed it was because I had twins that I could process different voices at the same time. In actual fact I’d quickly worked out how to tweak the dials on the headphones.

My partner for the morning was a lecherous and smarmy bloke in his late-20s who managed over the course of the lesson to turn me off completely with his politics (complete Tory Boy – a complete no-go) psychological preferences (Freudian psychoanalysis? Don’t even get me started…) and far-too-close-for-comfort standards of physical proximity.

At break time Tory Boy was at my side like a limpet, trying to dazzle me with his psychological insight into God-only-knows-what. I was too busy scanning the crowd, looking for an escape route to listen to what he was saying.

And then I spotted him: the dad from the night before.

‘Oh, excuse me. I’ve just seen someone I need to talk to,’ I said to Tory Boy, before sidling up to the dad.

‘Sorry to interrupt, but…save me!

For the next 10 minutes he was my knight in shining armour, rescuing me from bigotry, misguided beliefs and and over-familiar hand. Besides which, he was nice and rather pleasant to look at.

Over the week we kept bumping into each other at breakfast. Tinky-Winky had just been sacked from the Teletubbies because his ‘interpretation of the role was not appropriate.’ We discussed how it would impact our children not to have Tinky-Winky in their lives. (Although, obviously T-W’s suit was just filled by another actor. One less inappropriate, I guess. I now can’t get the image of Tinky-Winky flicking v-signs and dry-humping Noo-Noo out of my mind.) I learnt that he had a daughter a year older than the twins, that he knew my home town quite well as he had step-family there, that he was a nice guy…and definitely not Tory.

Into the week I admitted to some of the people in my group that I liked this man. They tried to set us up on a river boat cruise. He wasn’t having any of it and sat at the other end of the table.

And then on the last night he made a move. I invited him to pop by the next time he was in my area and we swapped numbers. I didn’t really expect him to get in touch.

But a couple of weeks later I got a phone call. Watford were playing Norwich, could he pop by on the way past? That’ll be 17 years, an exchange of wedding rings and two children ago.

I never did complete my degree with the OU. But it still changed my life.

With love,

Mum xx

Rage Against the (Parking) Machine

You see the green car there? THAT’S where MY car should have been!

* * * * *

What do you do if you see a spaceman?
Park in it, man.

* * * * *

To the man from the Aerial installers company,

When you moved the cone reserving a parking space outside my house today I think you knew you were being SELFISH. Still, it was nearly the end of the day, you had one last quick job on and the street where I live is HELL TO PARK ON. So you moved the cone. What right does anyone have to reserve a parking space anyway?

But I don’t think you expected me to catch you in the act. To retrieve the newly-moved cone. The cone that was bagging a spot outside my own home. The spot into which I was about to get my car to park in it, having had to leave it several streets away after returning home from a day out. Having had to wake my toddler to get him home because it’s HELL TO PARK in our street.

You could hear him crying inside the house. I think you pitied me. Quite rightly so. The space was obviously destined for MY car. Having it by the door rather than a 5-minute walk away certainly makes my life easier. But, you see, as soon as a space becomes available you have to bagsie it with a cone. Because otherwise, by the time you’ve walked to the car, driven around the one-way system (potentially stopping at four sets of traffic lights on the way round) some other bugger will have taken it. With a family to feed and small kids to get to bed, I haven’t got time for such a palaver. There are times I have to do it with both kids in tow too, strapping them into their car seats, adding to the pain-in-the-arse nature of it all.

The trouble is nobody respects a parking cone any more. In your mind the world centres around you and nobody else’s convenience could be as important as yours.

‘I’ll only be 10 minutes you told me.’

Did you feel sorry for me? Or were you just worried that I was going to key your van?

I waited 10 minutes. Then 20 minutes. I delayed a trip to the supermarket over the road.

Do you know what would have been the nice thing to have done? To give me a knock on the door just as you were about to drive off. Just to let me know the space was going to be free. Because, it’s HELL TO PARK down my street.

But you didn’t. You just drove off. Which is why, when I looked out the window 30 minutes after our little conversation a f-king GREEN CAR was parked there instead.

So, thanks for that. If manners maketh the man, then you are merely a jerk.

* * * * *

To the owner of the green car,

I’m sure that when you overheard the conversation between me and the aerial man – about him only being 10 minutes – you knew that to take the space the second he had gone would be a SELFISH thing to do. I don’t know if you live down the street, but I suspect so as you were so ready to pounce. So you’ll have been aware that it’s HELL TO PARK down the street.

But you were also aware that I had my sights on it. That I have a young family – you could hear the crying too – and if you had any sense of empathy you’d have worked out that having the car right by the house would have bigger benefits for me than for you. Not having the opportunity for Noodles try to run off into the road as we walk to the car would be a benefit for a start.

But in your mind the world centres around you and nobody else’s convenience could possibly be as important as yours. So you took it for yourself.

It was a brave move though. One day I could well be overcome with the desire to key a car and that green is very enticing. Heaven knows I’ve learnt that men don’t like women so much as breathing on their cars (like the man who went off on one because my car door touched – not slammed into, not dented, not marked, but touched – his after he’d parked too close to mine in a car park and I couldn’t open the door far enough to get Boo into her car seat). Even though your car is really quite girlie. It’d hardly make it into Top Gear as the ‘reasonably priced car’ let alone onto their Cool Wall. And yet you still seem to treat it like a penis extension. Which is weird, when you’re already obviously a massive dick.

Remind me never to do you a neighbourly favour should you ever need it.

* * * * *

To the commuters who use our street as a free parking lot,

When you park in the street just over the road from the train station – the street where I live – you know that you’re being SELFISH. You know that really, if you were a good citizen, you would park in the railway car park. The car park specially built for you and your convenience. But you don’t.

The station car park is too small, you justify to yourself. Plus (more enticingly) if you park down the street it’s free. You mentally clap your hands with glee when you find a space in the street – it’s HELL TO PARK here after all. What with all the residents being so selfish and having cars that they don’t always use, cluttering up available space. Don’t they know you’ve got a train to catch?

The reason it’s so hellish though is not because of the residents though. Usually there’s just enough space for the cars belonging to those of us who live in the street. Yet, come 5.30pm, just after the train pulls in at 5.25pm and you’ve walked across the road, the street half empties. By 5.32pm it’s full again as we residents race to our cars, praying we haven’t got parking tickets. Doing the ‘please-be-space-please-be-a-space’ chant as we loop the one-way system and get held up by the lights.

It’s why, when I want to visit the shops and supermarkets on the out-of-town retail estates I walk. Because, last time I drove (because it was chucking it down with rain and I desperately needed nappies, preferring a brand that they stick in two adjacent stores on the Hardwick Estate, but not in a single shop in the town centre) it took me eight minutes to drive back home, but another forty minutes to find somewhere to park!

But, of course, none of that matters because in your mind the world centres around you and nobody else’s convenience could possibly be as important as yours.

I long for the day the council finally gets round to initiating a residents’ parking scheme. If it means we all end up paying to park our cars so be it, if it means I can actually leave it in the same street that I live in.

* * * * *

To the Eastern European man from no23,

When you did the post-commuter dash to park your car outside your house you surely knew that taking up two spaces for your single BMW was selfish. You may not have been here long, but I’m sure – by dint if being part of the rush for space – you know that it’s HELL TO PARK in the street.

I understand that you don’t have a great grasp of English uptightness and why you may not be aware that your actions caused a vein to bulge on my forehead. I appreciate that we have to grab the chance to clean out our cars when we can. (Which is my excuse for only doing mine about once a year, when all the parking have aligned – car parked close enough to house, time to kill, weather not going to destroy the job immediately afterwards – and why instead, most if the time I drive around in a car that more closely resembles Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can. I am Oscar the Grouch, obviously.)

I would like to introduce you to the concept of the extension lead. Most homes have one. If you don’t, you’re always welcome to borrow ours. It would mean that you wouldn’t have to double-nab a space so that you could do the upholstery with the vacuum cleaner. Instead you’d be able to shift forward a few inches and let another poor sod get their car into the street.

But, obviously, it didn’t occur to you this evening as instead you maintained your position whilst (for reasons that I don’t think I want to know) you then spent the next half hour climbing into your car boot. Because, onviously, in your mind the world centres around you and nobody else’s need could possibly be as important as yours. You’re lucky I didn’t slam the lid down on you in a fit of pique.

* * * * *

To all of the above, really,

Thanks for nothing. I did get my car parked back in the street again – eventually. Although more considerate actions from any of you would have saved me a lot of time and annoyance.


The Gluestick Mum.