Evidence that Fran's bus - and joy - have been tooken away

They've taken away my bus.

Or, as my 5 year old granddaughter might put it, 'They've tooken away my bus.'

I'll get back to the bus in a moment.

You've got to love junior grammar. It's not until they're about 7 or 8 that they've fully grasped irregular verb endings. So, she's still saying things like 'I talkid to the man' or 'I rided my bike and wented to the park where I eated my icecream.'

Who can blame her? It's an unjust world of irregular verbs. You emerge from the womb. You learn the verb 'to eat'. You hear someone say, 'I wouldn't have minded. You think, 'Hey, so, mind becomes minded in the past tense. This means that, on the end of verbs, if you want the past tense, you use -ed. I'm going to have a go. Hey, Ma. I eated my dinner.'

'No, dear. It's not eated. It's ate.'


Okay, try this one, Ma. I heard someone say they walked in the garden. So, sometimes the 'ed…

Evidence that horses, bandstands and green folders all have a connection

This week, I have some pictures for you from my phone's camera. I am going to try to find links between them. 

Okay, so let's start this photo-blog with this beauty. I don't know his name. I'll call him Horse because I'm original like that.

I visit Horse regularly. He lives in a field 15 minutes' walk away from my house. When I say 15 minutes' walk, I'm the one who walks to Horse, not Horse to me. I plug in my earphones, select a radio programme, and say to my husband, 'Going up the road to see Horse.'

Horse listens to any problems you have and gives wise, merciful looks. He is cheaper than any other therapist. He does not judge. And you can trust him not to gossip. All he asks in payment is that you stroke him and feed him clumps of grass, which I call a bargain.

This is the bandstand in Leamington Spa's Pump Room Gardens, near my home, and it's currently being restored to its original loveliness by a company specialising in this kind …

Reasons why teachers might look forward to weekends and holidays ...

This is a scene from a novel I hoped to get published. But I've moved on now and am writing another book which will be published in 2020. Watch this space!
I really like the scene, though. So I thought I'd let you read it, rather than having it fester on my laptop. 
Enjoy! It's very much based on my personal experience, and it's a scene that's played out in real life in many, many classrooms across the country. And perhaps the world. 

Setting: a secondary school classroom, England. Friday afternoon.  Characters: an English teacher and her class

The pupils, as they did every week at this time, drifted from all corners of the school, in spits and spots like a gradual, hesitant build-up of rain.
They seemed weary, as did their end-of-the-week uniforms, which drooped and slouched on their bodies as if drained of life.Indeed, some of their blazers had died and slidden off their bodies like thin corpses, hanging now from the ends of their fingers. Several pupils had risked …

Reasons why Fran will make things clearer next time she's in Costa

I went to a writers' day recently and stopped in a nearby Costa at 9.30am as I was early arriving. I ordered a coffee, then spotted in the fridge some impressive chicken salad baguettes. That's when I remembered I was meant to be taking a packed lunch with me to the writers' day. Serendipitous!!

The assistant gave me the wrapped baguette on a plate, which I didn't need, but, hey, no worries. When I got to my table, I slid the baguette into my rucksack alongside my notebook and pens, and began to sip the coffee.

Barely 30 seconds later, the same assistant came past my table, looked down at my empty plate, back at my face, and said, 'Have you finished with this, Madam?'

I didn't realise the implication at first or I'd have said, 'Oh, the baguette was for lunch. It's in my bag.'

Instead, I realise, I let him think that I had necked that baguette in half a minute in the same way a sword-swallower appears to: all in one, and without it touching …

Evidence that Fran has started the year a domestic goddess

Well, Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for following me during 2018 - your forbearance and long-suffering are much appreciated, as are all your comments. This year I'm meant to be writing and delivering to the publishers my diary-memoir 'Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?' Watch out for news.

I thought I'd write about fish pie as it's the start of the new year and there are many, many reasons I am not the right person to write a blog about new year resolutions ...

I made a fish pie last night for dinner because there was a packet of supermarket pastry in the fridge that never got converted into mince pies over Christmas.

Why didn't I make the mince pies? Mainly because I knew that no one would eat them over Christmas because they'd all be stuffed to perdition with other goodies. So, if I'd made 48, I would eat 47 of them and then my husband, who's not a major fan (of mince PIES, you at the back!!) would wander into the kitchen in mid-January …

Reasons why Fran and Santa aren't speaking

Dear Santa

Thanks so much for the streaming cold, tickly throat and stuffed-up head and for delivering them all early so that I get to enjoy them throughout the entire Christmas period. Your thoughtfulness is touching.


Dear Fran

I assure you that I did not deliver you the streaming cold, tickly throat and stuffed-up head. I bear you no ill-will, despite the caustic letter I received from you early this year about last Christmas's presents and how disappointed you were that I could not source the recipe books you wanted.


Dear Santa

I am sorry if I over-reacted. But I was looking forward to receiving my copies of 'One-Cal Cakes' and 'Eat Like a Piggy: Look Like a Supermodel'.


Dear Fran

I understand you are a Dickens fan. Have you read 'Great Expectations'? I have a spare copy I could deliver, if you wish.


Dear Santa

How would the world's children react if they knew you had such a sarcastic edge to your tongue? That's like finding…

Reasons why Fran is avoiding the phone

My husband sent his flute in for repair a couple of weeks ago and has been waiting for the shop to call.

Just now, while I was watching TV, the phone rang in the hall and I went to pick it up. A man's voice said, 'It's the music shop. Can I speak to Mr Hill, please?'

I don't know why, but I said 'Speaking.'  I swear the menopause gives women a form of Tourette's.

'Oh,' he said, clearly surprised that Mr Hill had a woman's voice, especially as, in the shop two weeks ago, he'd had a deep bass voice, substantial facial hair, and was wearing a flat cap.

I wasn't sure how to backtrack.

'One second,' I said, and stepped into the kitchen where my husband was making bread.

'It's the music shop for you,' I said, thrusting the phone at him, keen to escape the embarrassing situation and get back to watching Homes under the Hammer.

'They'll have to hang on,' my husband said, making no attempt to keep his voice do…