Showing posts from November, 2009

Reasons why it's best not to start a relationship with a crisp packet

It was as I was marking script after script after script after flamin' script that I thought, 'I know! Why not liven life up and write a blog post about a crisp packet?' So now the marking is finished, CUE THE HALLELUJAH CHORUS AND PASS ME THE CHARDONNAY, I'm here to inflict my crisp packet story on you. It just shows how bored I was, because I'm sure I remember saying to myself once, 'Fran, if you ever find yourself writing about a crisp packet, that's the time to pursue a different hobby.' But, as you all know, taking my own advice was never my best skill. Anyway, you can't say I didn't warn you that this post wasn't going to be exactly Dostoyoevsky-(I-had-to-check-my-bookshelf-for-the-spelling)-esque. So now's your moment. Crime and Punishment, or Fran's crisp packet story? ******* ******* ******* ******* Thank you, dear reader, for staying. Just for you, then ... So, there I was, the other morning, standing a

Reasons why I will never, ever, ever agree to be an external examiner again

I need to explain why I haven't been commenting on your blogs or writing any of my own. You may well have been grateful for this ... anyway, here is the reason: A monologue Right, so that's three hundred and twenty exam scripts I have to mark by ... er ... ah ... I have two weeks. And, in a miracle of brilliant timing, it all coincides with my being back at work after sick leave. So, that was a REALLY GOOD DECISION of mine to apply to do exam marking, then. Thousand quid, or no thousand quid, somehow I wonder whether it's going to be worth it. Still, some chocolate should help. I know. I'll put this box of chocolates near my marking pile and every time I've done 20 scripts, I'll reward myself with one. (Mark, mark, mark.) Good, that's the first 20. Chocolate! Pop it in! Yum! Now, let's get going again. (Mark, mark, mark.) Sigh. This is going slowly. Only 10 done. Oh well, that's a round number. Have a chocolate. Pop it in! Yum! Now, come

Things I learned while walking in the rain

I went for a half-hour walk in the pouring rain tonight. And I learned some things along the ..... No, DON'T ask me why I walked in the pouring rain. No, DON'T. DON'T. Oh! You are so demanding. Can't a woman just tell a story without having to give all the detail? Al right , then. If you get bored before you even get to the main event, on your own head be it. Here's the reason I was walking in the rain (for those who just HAVE to know EVERYTHING) ... I was meeting a friend at the theatre to watch a show. And I had to take the bus. (Don't get excited, Amanda - this is not another bus story - this is the first in a thrilling series of 'damp pedestrian' posts.) I was due to meet my friend at the theatre at 7pm. But the bus timetable just didn't work out like that which means I got off the bus at 6.30pm, right there, right outside the theatre. So I could have gone in and sat there on my own, waiting. But you feel such an eejit, don't yo

How not to get satire published

You may have noticed that, here and there, in amongst the gravely intellectual posts I usually write, I do some less serious stuff. 'Essential Writers', a writers' blog, has published an article by me about how to write satire, or, more accurately, how not to ... Check it out if you're interested.

Why women poets should never bring a pen and paper to bed

I performed the following poem at a poetry slam which I turned up to without knowing the rules of poetry slams: you have to have more than one poem in case you get through more than one round. (Dur! Loser!) They laughed at the poem when I performed it, but bearing in mind that it was all I had to offer, I had to be thrown out after Round 1 anyway. Sigh. That was a hundred quid I could have won. Anyway, hope you enjoy my tale of Doreen and Jack and the way Doreen's passion for art intrudes somewhat into other passions ... I suppose it's a tale about poetus interruptus. Doreen was a poet, a wannabe writer Whose husband had just upped and left her, the blighter. He’d said, at the door, where he stood with the cases, ‘You kept making rhymes in the most awkward places. You kept making rhymes At inappropriate times Like that moment in bed When – mid-you-know – you said, That’s it, Jack, oh yes! And I thought it was passion But you were thinking of rhymes And it muck

Why it's a good idea just to forget the birthdays

I don't know what it is about middle age, but every time I think I'm just about to reach it, it moves on a few years. When I was a teenager, I thought middle age was about twenty-three. Then, in my 20s, I decided it was thirty-five, as that was half-way to seventy, and didn't it say somewhere about three score years and ten?, although that still did seem incredibly old, and it was actually written in the Old Testament of the Bible, and they all lived to four hundred and ninety, so how did that work? That would make middle-age two-hundred and forty-five and that's a hell of a long time to wait for your pension. When I got to my 30s, middle-age moved again, to the 40s. Now I'm in my late 40s, and I still haven't got to middle age. I've revised it to 50, which is half way to a hundred, because don't you get a card from the Queen when you hit a hundred? In fact, they're thinking about pushing this on to 105, I hear, as so many people reach their cent

Another letter from Santa

This morning's post brought another letter from Santa. This was today's letter. Dear Fran Thank you for your recent letter. At first sight, seeing that it was merely a list of books, I allowed myself to think that, at last, you had come to your senses and were now making reasonable requests. However, this turns out not to be the case. I would therefore like to confirm that I can locate no copies of the following books: Exercising without Much Effort Healthy Innovative Recipes with Three-Week-Old Fridge Leftovers Speak Swahili in a Day Buy Something Different This Christmas for your Male Relatives Train your In-laws The Way You Want Them Look Alluring in Tartan Pyjamas Exercising without Any Effort The 'Drink Liquid Chocolate' Diet Tchaikovsky for Dummies Slippers with Sex Appeal DIY Liposuction on a Budget How to Guarantee a Date with Clooney Exercising without Exercising I do have a spare copy of a book entitled 'How to Make Sur

Why eating chocolate penguins is bad for the conscience

It's true. There isn't a comfortable way to eat a chocolate penguin. You're going to feel like a murderer whichever way you go about it. Chocolates from a box don't have a personality, so can be scoffed any which way - sideways, frontways, nibbled round the edges - without a twinge of the conscience. Chocolate penguins? They have that 'make friends with me' look about them, which makes any eye contact awkward, especially if you're already salivating. But when a friend brings you a chocolate penguin to say 'Get Well Soon', you don't abuse their kindness by not eating it. You abuse the penguin. I started with the beak. At least this protruded from the face, and seemed like an obvious bite-hold. But this meant me putting his face against my lips so that I could snap my teeth round his beak; this felt so intimate, and so like betrayal. It was an 'Ate too, Brute?' moment. Now he was without the beak, my task seemed more manageable. At le

What the emoticons really really mean

I thought it was a good idea to marry a dressmaker. What I didn't know is that she'd have innovative ways of shutting me up when I asked about her shopping trips. Mummy, don't fuss. Sitting at the computer for hours is doing me no damage at all. So I was at the vegetable counter and the assistant said, 'Look, you owe eight pounds, okay, and if you don't pay up, I'll shove this jalapeno pepper right in your gob.' And I said, 'Look here, young man, do you know who you're spPHLUMPH ...' There I was, at the dentist, and he says to me, 'You want teeth like Simon Cowell?' and I says to him, 'Yeah, go on then!' and so he did all this work for me. I just didn't realise the grin would be permanent, though. I'm having real difficulty being taken seriously at my business meetings. And my jaw ACHES, man! Yep, I know. Never trust a plastic surgeon when he says he'll do all the operations at once. And where are my ears?

Evidence that I have lost an ovary but gained an addiction

That's it. I can't go back to my teaching job. I've got myself addicted to watching DVDs while I've been on sick leave after my operation, and now I don't have time for a career. First, a friend at work gave me a film called 'Sideways' about two guys who go on holiday together as a last fling before one of them gets married. I won't go into what kind of flinging they get up to but it involves other people. This is a family blog, or it would be if any families would sign up as followers and send my follower rate to 390 - families with octuplets, listen up. The friend slipped a little note inside the DVD saying, 'You'll need to have a glass of wine while you're watching this'. I wasn't sure what he meant. Was the film really that bad? In which case, why lend it? Not a very nice 'get well soon' gesture, then, dumbo, eh? In the end, it turned out that the holiday the guys go on is a wine-tasting trip. Ah. Get you. Actually, it w