Showing posts from June, 2016

Evidence that a trip to the dentist isn't just a trip to the dentist

I've just come back from the dentists' surgery. 1. Is  it dentists' surgery? Dentist surgery? Dental surgery? Or dentist's surgery? There are four dentists working there, but I only had one treating me, the Lord be thanked. Imagine! Four at once, peering into your mouth in the way the police might gaze into the darkness of a deep well scanning for bodies. Four dentists saying 'Open wide' 'Open wide' 'Open wide' 'Open wide' like a Gregorian chant or an echo across a valley. Four gleaming dental probes, all in your mouth at once, like an attack of metal scorpions. Hey, you dentalphobics out there: have you fainted yet? 2. It was raining when I set off to catch the bus: Proper Grown-up Rain, which has been falling for two days now, greying up the world and sluicing down drains with unreasonable gusto. So I took my husband's giant umbrella, measuring a mile across its width, and being the most anti-social umbrella in Christendom. To p

Reasons why Fran's ribs are fine but her feet are not

I bought a new non-slip bath mat. But I am a spectacularly unsuccessful shopper and could not sing, along with Edith Piaf, 'Non, je ne regret rien' because I rue 90% of my purchases. Neither can I speak French, so that's another reason. And she's dead, so singing along is probably too high an expectation. We never used to own a bath mat. But our shower is an over-the-bath type, without the dimpled surface one gets in a purpose-built shower unit. Since my husband slipped a couple of years back while showering, fell forward, and landed on his ribs on the edge of the bath, we've used a mat. Yes, ouch. He broke two ribs and, as you probably know, medics do nothing for broken ribs these days unless the shards have pierced your lungs, your lips have gone blue, and your eyes have disappeared into the back of your head.  I remember the Summer of the Spouse's Broken Ribs well, because four weeks later, with his chest still the colour of blackberries, we t

Reasons why I loved being in Colin the Harsh's classes

You bump into someone in the street. ‘Sorry,’ you say. ‘No, I’m sorry,’ says your bumpee. ‘No, my fault,’ you insist. ‘My fault,’ they say. ‘I’m so sorry.’ ‘No, really …’ And it could go on for ever, this quest to be the one in the wrong, if you didn’t both have shopping to do, letters to post, and other people to apologise to. They say it’s a British thing. Whatever it is, my creative writing tutor, Colin, was determined to stamp it out. I joined his class in 1995 when my third child had started school. During that first lesson, he asked a woman to share her work. She opened her notebook, announced, ‘I’m sorry – it’s not very good,’ and began to read. He interrupted her. ‘Rule Number One,’ he said. ‘We will never apologise for what we’ve written.’ It took us weeks to learn that he meant it. If we launched into a bumbling, self-effacing, ever so ‘umble apology, he’d put up his hand, like a police officer stopping traffic, and say, ‘Start again

Reasons why Fran prefers to shop online

Last weekend saw me in Yorkshire on a writers' course. We were given a task on Saturday morning: write about a journey. We read out our pieces on the Saturday night. This was mine and I thought some of you might identify with its sentiments :) I would rather navigate spiteful whitewater rapids, I think, as I embark on a journey that terrifies me more. I would sooner scale mountains thick with snow and peril. I would, instead, fight through rainforests with only a compass and the threat of snakebite for companions. Yes, I would choose any - all - of these, rather than launch myself on this journey. I am travelling, nudging, millimetre by millimetre, from the back to the front of the Saturday morning queue at Tesco. No, there are no killer beasts here, except for unpredictable wayward trolleys, untamed in the inexpert grasp of Marjorie, who normally shops online, or Derek, who hasn't shopped alone since 1972 and is only here because of his wife's broken ankle. And h