Evidence that people have started demanding evidence

I mean, do I look particularly suspicious? Judging by recent events which I'll tell you about, I must do.

Here's a picture of me, to remind you.

Oh, sorry. Wrong picture.

Here I am.

See? Butter wouldn't melt!

A friend says she always judges people on the basis of 'Would I let them look after my cat?' It's surprisingly reliable. Try it.

You'd let me look after yours, wouldn't you?

I know for sure that the headteacher of my grandson's primary school wouldn't. Even though I've waited in the school playground once a week for two years now, he didn't recognise me last Thursday when I arrived to pick up Elijah from his after-school club.

I was under suspicion.

I'll say here that this headteacher is a lovely man and I can't blame him for making sure I was the real deal if he didn't recognise me. I'd much rather know that he checked people out than let any Tom, Dick or Hattie in to collect children.

But I couldn't help being …

Evidence that not everyone thinks of holiday souvenirs in the same way

The main legacy from our two summer weeks in Whitby, Yorkshire, appears to be that we have swapped to a different make of toilet roll.

It doesn't have the romanticism of the usual souvenir, I know: the photos of surfers, the sand sculpture, or the arrangement of shells in a picture frame, or a fisherman ornament.

We've been faithful to Andrex toilet rolls ever since we married. In fact, 37 years on, I think Andrex should have sent us a thank you letter or at least a card. Alas, we have received nothing, not even a free two-pack. This is despite the fact that, having brought up a family of three, we've provided employment for at least a hundred puppies.

We've stuck with Andrex through 2 ply and 3 ply, literally through thin and thick, and through different patterns and perforations over the years. You'd think it would count for something, like war service, or a lifetime career in the NHS. But, no.

Then, in August, in the bathroom of our holiday apartment in Whitby, …

Reasons why sparrowhawks should be called Edward

A sparrowhawk visited our garden yesterday, perching on a garden chair for a minute to show itself off and play a game of who'll blink first with a sparrow. The sparrow made a hasty exit and the sparrowhawk flew off, meal-less.

It's not surprising. If a sparrowhawk wants more success, it should rename itself Edward or Marmaduke, something that gives the sparrows no clue. With a name like Sparrowhawk, it might as well announce its approach with a megaphone and a big sign saying, 'Say your prayers, little sparrows. Here come my claws.'

Imagine if humans did the same so that, instead of being called Colin or Jake, people who broke into others' houses were called Burglar or Thief, or those who attacked others on the streets and stole their phones were named Mugger or Pickpocket.

It would make life so much easier and the police would be able to put their feet up and brew a cuppa.

'Oh hi. Welcome to the team here at Financial Solutions. First day here?'


Evidence that although Fran and froth begin with the same letters, they are not friends.

I won't say which coffee shop chain it was, although I doubt my critique would chip much off their bajillion-dollar profits, but yesterday I ordered an iced cappuccino, thus entering into one of the most bewildering half-hours of my life.

This picture tells you what I'd expected.

The following picture describes what happened more effectively.

This wasn't a drink. This was a froth nightmare, a challenge, the kind you get on game shows.

There was an inch or so of coffee in the bottom of the tall glass, then the rest, about three feet of it, was thick, white, stiff froth.

I stirred with the straw I'd been given. Surely the coffee would mix with the froth.

The drink laughed. The straw bent.

I stirred again, faster.

The drink guffawed.

I fetched a spoon and began eating the froth, which stayed solid, like raw meringue mix. What do they add to it? Prittstick? The glue they put wounds back together with?

I stirred again, maniacally. This time, hope. Some of the brown coffee b…

Evidence that Fran is having a steamy holiday

We're in Whitby, Yorkshire, on holiday for a fortnight. We're in the second week now and the holiday's been pretty steamy so far.

We'd only been in the holiday apartment for five minutes when we realised we were overlooking not only the harbour but the railway line and that, four times a day, we'd see steam trains arriving and departing. Here's what we saw.

My husband received this news in a moderate and understated manner, leaping from sofa to sofa and yelling, 'Yippee!' and 'Whoop whoop!' and singing the Thomas the Tank Engine theme tune while waving his arms around.

He's a steam geek. We used to own a record, back in the days when people owned records, on which each track was a different steam engine, setting off from or arriving into a station. To my ear, I wouldn't say the tracks were - er - varied. But I'm not a steam engine fan. People who aren't Rod Stewart fans, or Bob Dylan fans, probably say the same about their albums…

Reasons why Fran is now wary when opening the door to the pantry

So, this morning, our new vacuum cleaner arrived. My husband and I had decided that we'd been hauling a Henry up and down our precipitous Victorian wooden stairs for long enough and, until we've both made our wills, perhaps we should find another solution.

'Oh, I'm so sorry. How did she die?'

'She tripped over the hose of the vacuum cleaner and, what's more, she hadn't even done the downstairs rooms.'

I'm not going to lie, it doesn't have the romanticism of 'She died of heartbreak' or 'She died rescuing someone from drowning' or even 'She fell into a crevasse while climbing in the Alps.'

Anyway, we opened the box excitedly. 'I'll find the instructions,' I said.

This picture shows the front page of the instruction booklet.

It says, 'Please read carefully before using this product.' The only problem is, the rest of the booklet looks like this. (I think you know what's coming, don't you?)


Reasons why Fran prefers winter

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far. My husband heard some advice on Radio 4 that to keep the house cool one should shut all doors, close all windows, and pull all curtains. So we had two choices. Sit outside in the garden in heat so oppressive we could feel it wrapping its sweaty arms around us and squeezing us tight, or sit inside in the dark.

Most of the day, we sat indoors. It's officially true, then. You can escape a heatwave by staying in and feeling trapped and lonely.

Neither of us is good with heat. For our holidays, we look for anywhere north of the Midlands where rain and perhaps mist are likely. One of our best holidays was in the Lake District a few years ago. It was cool and drizzly and we saved a lot of money not buying sun cream, ice cream or insect bite cream. Also, my husband could persuade me up gentle slopes, which he can't if I'm convinced I will die from sunstroke halfway up. 

I couldn't do what my sister is currently doing, therefore…