Newbies and the NCTJ Exams

January 6, 2009 - Leave a Response

This month is going to be a shitstorm for me. She says, blissfully typing away not at all procrastinating from revising the entire contents of the McNaes Essential Law for Journalists tome. Usually when facing terrifiying exams like this, before the 11th hour when I cram furiously I tend to just hide in the gym.

Ah the gym.

Its January which means to distract us from the fact that our Christmas bonuses have evaporated and the decorations are down… and the recession is quite obviously infecting and murdering our favourite High Street shops – everybody is now either detoxing, exercising or weeping quietly into their Woolies lampshades.

Right so, the gym is my first peevish grumble of the year. The fact that I, as a regular gym-goer (as in I go the same three times a week for an hour a time and recognise each week the people that go at the same time as I do), I really resent seeing groups of girls pouring over their three side-by-side treadmills giggling about which setting they should try out. 

Similarly with the kid that comes in to exercise wearing denim shorts and Converse. Give up now. The Miso soup diet might work better as you have obviously never been to a gym before however it is probable that you have made soup before.

It just annoys me. I deliberately go in early so I miss the post-late-breakfast-on-a-free-day herd. I’ll wager that I won’t see half the newbies hovering sheepishly about the cross-trainers in a month. 

And so, in protest, today I did not go to the gym because spending 25 minutes on a rowing machine while looking over my shoulder to see if the treadmills/ cycles/ cross-trainers/ thigh-trainers were free yet but they were all snaffled up before I could unharness my feet. Instead, I got out my trusty Yogalates DVD which I used concurrent with gym classes at Lancaster as well as after a cold outdoor run when I lived at home. 

Now, I could go for a run here… not so much. The streets of Salford are no place for a jogger. Although the fear might be a good cardio-vascular enhancer. 

Plus I have the NCTJs to revise for which start in 8 days! I have done very little revision thusfar and I hope that the terror of having to fork out another £185 to resit them might just be the kick up the backside that I so obviously need. I managed to get by my second flush of internal exams comfortably with maniacle revising done the 60 hours prior to sitting down in silence with my cohorts.

Happily, this means that fear, late nights and no money will assist in weight-loss and as next Wednesday draws closer, I doubt I will get more than two more gym visits in until the end of the month when the exams are finished. So, luckily, I may miss out on these mincing newbies after all. 

Anyway, I always have my downward dogs and planks to keep me toned in the meanwhile. Not to mention my rapidly depleting food stock which will very shortly consist primarily of frozen peas and dried flagelot beans. 

Still, I’m sure that some nutritionist out there will be able to confirm that flagelot beans are fantastic for the brain. And I need all the brain power I can muster for these beasty examinations. Two Law exams, newswriting (a lot more difficult to get high marks in than you would think), Public Affairs local government and Public Affairs central government. Basically, to go from zero of the above wisdoms of British democracy and journalism to at the very least “novice” of the above wisdoms is quite a task. It certainly doesn’t help that it is for the most part (law and PA mainly) – tedium.

Newswriting for an NCTJ exam generally comprises of writing stories from fictitious press releases regarding potholes or community centres being shut down. I am yet to see an NCTJ exam with a faux press release unravelling a story such as that in the news today about the Australian woman who killed her husband by lighting his penis on fire. 

Anyway, all this is very well but I do have to revise the entire law of the world and the entire British government systems by next week and so far I’m not even going to squeak by on a wing and a prayer. Christmas is truly over.

Happy New Year.

Ode to a Heel Fetishist

December 11, 2008 - Leave a Response

I read a fairly odd article online today about at heel fetishist who attacked women as they walked along and mugged them for their shoes. He would leave the woman traumatised and utterly bewildered (doubtless preparing herself for the worst kind of assault imaginable on a woman only to be baffled by the draught on her toes all of a sudden) while the twenty-something man scampered off to sexually gratify himself while gazing hungrily at the robbed stiletto heels.

Fetishes are fascinating – in fact anything that has anything remotely to do with sex is fascinating. And shoes are fascinating too… but the marriage of sex and shoes does have an appeal, doesn’t it?

Now don’t get me wrong – animal-level sex is the hight of intimacy and affection but a bit of slap-and-tickle in the bedroom is just so much fun! 

And so shoe fetishism has mutual advantages. Aside from the obvious sexual pleasures the gentleman gets from a silken, red, peep-toe four incher, the entire act from brief research appears to ritualise a kind of worship for the whole foot! 

Feet, clean, pedicured, soft, naked. Slipped inside a beautifully designed brand new shoe. The glimpse of toe cleavage or a red toenail? You don’t have to be a fetishist yourself to see the attraction. 

Fetish heels in internet stores are the epitome of everything cocotte and vampish. Pigalle and Le But de Montmartre seeps through each pair! Vampish, inky-black stilettos with a 5 inch steel heel. Thigh-high, PVC boots with platform soles and pewter-coloured heels. Dainty pink silk two-inchers with a flirty marabou puff brushing the toes. Strappy, black platform heels chanelling YSL Tribute shoes (surely THE designer fetish heel of 2007?) with a sturdy six inch heel, perfect for stepping out of a taxi and into a bar. Red, silk Louboutins for the devilish power-woman savvy enough to realise that the heel and the fitted Ralph Lauren shirt are the nouveaux power-suit, dahling!

A heel fetishist loves the shape of heels, the way they shape the foot, the skin inside the shoe, the weight the heel takes of the woman’s body, the impression it leaves in the ground and when standing on a bed, the geometric space between the heel and the sole (triangular – reflecting the ladies’ genitalia subconsciously?) and the clatter of heels on the floor. It is an obsession we can just about understand but could never – enviably – appreciate the charms of the heel to the extent of the devout heel fetishists out there. Just like a man can envy a woman for having a ten-minute orgasm, so must the woman envy the heel fetishist for getting more pleasure out of a pair of shoes than her!

But for the woman – if you are happy to satisfy this fetish if your gentleman friend is so inclined – it is an excuse to not worry about what position makes your tummy look wobbly or if you’ve had a zit errupt somewhere terribly awkward like your neck because he’ll be looking at your feet!

Admittedly, this could become frustrating but the pros in many circumstances outweigh the cons. The primary pro being you can wear your red silk Jimmy Choos and not worry about spillages, stains or general sabotage of your gorgeous pied-vetements because you get to wear them to an occasion in the bedroom!

In all seriousness, however, if you love somebody or want to be with somebody then I say go with it – embrace the fetishes! If you can, of course. 

For the poor young man who resorted to steeling shoes from women, his treasure trove of over 200 stolen and internet-purchased shoes could have been shared legitimately and sans “mugging with intent to de-shoe related activities” with an equally shoey lady.

And so ends my little blog for all the shoe fetishists out there. God love you (as long as you obtain your shoes legitimately and not by terrifying a lovely young lady on her way back from a night on the lash)!


December 5, 2008 - Leave a Response

Christmas approaches and after a turbulant two months life has finally receded back to some kind of improved normality to that from living at home… journalism MA aside, I have got my relationship back.

The last year, living 200 miles apart and seeing eachother once a fortnight or even once in three weeks, we are now seeing one another once a week and we have got our sexlife back to what it used to be – fantastic!

I used to have a bit of a reputation, even before I met A, for being a bit kinky, not moaning about BJs or even back-door escapades. I was never slutty or gave it up quickly, in fact compared to most of the girls I went to school with, I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 18 although I had the usual high-school fumblings and hanky-panky when the opportunity arose… Still, I never threw my body around which is probably why A – the most jealous boy in the world – loves me and still does after the year of sex-drought!

Anyway, I digress… what makes me the happiest girl in the world right now is that my floundering sex-life and affection towards my boyfriend has been fully revitalised and those defunct synapses which sparked those animal urges to be as dirty and naked as possible have been recharged to full capacity! 

One thing which I hadn’t allowed my boyfriend to do in the whole year of living at home (not least because I knew I wouldn’t be able to orgasm listening to my mum making the Sunday morning fry-up) was oral. 

While living at home, and not feeling remotely sexually charged I would feel sorry for A and go down on him. I couldn’t stand him touching my breasts or trying to kiss me during so I would make him do it in the spoon position or doggy-style, that way he couldn’t see that I was not orgasming or even really enjoying it. I put the blame on a lingering yeast infection that made intercourse very painful and living in a home with my family with paper walls and no locks on  the doors.

Oral, once again has become my favourite thing in the world. A is extremely good at it. I know its good though because it gave me my first orgasm – you know when that is because before then you say “I think” because you don’t know. 

He always starts very gently and I talk to him telling him its good and not to stop yet and when its there – he knows me better than I know me which is why it is so perfect. I have no idea how long I take but its not instantaneous – I take much longer than him. He takes between 30 seconds to 7 minutes to come either orally or otherwise. I probably take about 15. The man must have a jaw of iron! I couldn’t do it – thats for sure. 

When I come it is amazing. You can’t compare it to anything except the nice bits of A-class drugs except without the nausea, depression, money, insomnia and scary people. 

For those of you who “think” you’ve had an orgasm and so most likely haven’t… and for those of you who admit to never having orgasmed, here is a rough list of the mixture of things you feel during a very very big orgasm;

Complete euphoria, loving being completely naked, trembling, shallow and rapid breathing, you can feel your own blood coursing around your body, you feel like you’re glowing, you can feel EVERYTHING from the strokes of his tongue to your own gushing fluids to the fibres of the bedsheets, you feel warm and comfortable. And when he finishes (I stroke his hair as a signal), you feel warm and satisfied… and tired!

Now we both have an understanding that neither of us kisses after going down on eachother. Its just icky. In the case of him – I go down on him when I don’t feel like having sex or I am on my period. Most of the time though, I go down on him because I WANT to please him and he gets his hardest orgasms from BJs. When he goes down on me, I always see that he comes in me after. Oral is such a turn on for him and its all so easy and the closeness seals the deal.

I rarely come from missionary sex which is what he likes to do after sorting me out which suits me fine as it is more intimate than some of our other positions which makes the whole sexual operation come to a close very happily. 

Why am I even writing this? Because I am so happy that I’ve got this thing back. A year of not orgasming is a terrible blow to a relationship and I am so pleased I can feel this way again after so long – and my love for A has literally, never been so strong. 

We’ve been together for almost 4 years… we’re both in our twenites and I can’t see a future without him. Think I’m sad? Well you aren’t having as good sex as me then.

Teeline Shorthand, a baptism of fire.

October 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

Day one of training to be a journalist has just come to a close… or rather it came to a close nearer 4:00pm today and I have been both worrying away at my exercise book plus stuffing my face in response to it.

Week one is solely Shorthand based – shorthand in this particular industry these days comes by the name of Teeline. Now Teeline, for those of you who don’t know it a journalist’s shorthand script loosely based around older scripts and compiled in such a way that you are supposed to learn it in accordance to how the brain registers and remembers terms in an easy and logical but overall speedy way.

Learning shorthand is like learning Japanese. It is not simply the case of memorising a new alphabet – each letter or “outline” one learns is connected to many other words and can symbolise so many different things and these are then learned by way of “drilling” – the embittered maiden aunt of “doing lines”. However some are fairly simple, the Teeline outline for the word Electric is the bottom-most corner of a letter E which is how the letter E is symbolised in Teeline generally. Electric is easy to learn because the letter itself represents E and the shape it gives looks like an L and so the word Electric flows off it quite easily (to me anyway). 

Things get tricky though when you go round the class transcribing the Teeline dictation you have just painstakingly scribbled down only to find that you can’t remember what you wanted the rhune to symbolise initially.

Its hard slog and I can’t see any shortcuts however I do think that daily practise will keep me ahead of the game (including having a gander at the next chapter so my classmates think I am better than them thus creating the persona of being brilliant and threatening). I do like my classmates however already you can see how the groups are beginning to form within the fold and it is always important to stay within groups you will feel encouraged to learn within… and to compete within. Alas, my peer group at university was one of those “wing and busk” sorts of groups and sadly my degree did suffer for the sake of my continuous fighting for my right to party and or skive when it was a nice day.

Still, we soldier on. I have initiated a good rapport with the class teacher which also helps I find. If, for no other reason than that I know she knows me now and will pick me up on things more often or ask me questions more often seeing as I am one of the 15 who to her has a real name. 

There has always been an element of psychology in my academic career. I remember at the age of 13 doing terribly in history until I decided to write my essays as though my history teacher was dictating them. Strange I know but if I imagined his voice and his vocabulary then I would be getting As instead of Cs. From then on I have relied equally on inter-classroom relations of the mind and academic prowess.

Prowess at this stage is a grand term, it belongs at the top of the stairs… each step being eight feet high and covered in sharp things and slimy things so as to make my clamber to the top more tricky. Except each step really is a chapter in Teeline for Journalists and each look down at the ground below is each question I am asked in front of my classmates with one wrong-footed answer leading to disastrous consequences.

For those of you out there learning Teeline along with me then I don’t look forward to the day we shall be competing for a nice cushy job at some glossy supplement magazine.


If you translate this and agree then you and I have a lot in common.

If you translate this and agree then you and I have a lot in common.

Religious Exercises

September 30, 2008 - Leave a Response

In my latest chapter of achieving personal fitness as not having a daily 14 mile round trip on my push-bike  will certainly wreak havoc on my soon to be gelatinous glutials – I have resolved to work the equivalent of a daily cross-county cycle into my academic timetable by joining the gym, that veritable temple of preserving our bodies and souls from gravity, age and chocolate fingers. 

At my previous university, the gym was a magical place where if you breathed in too deeply past the weights room you risked the very real chance of sprouting testicles and so aside from the occasional burst on a cardio machine myself and my friends reserved our energies for the flamboyant flailings of the aerobics classes (keen and synchronised little Chinese girls right at the front, clumsy and giggling art students having a party at the back).

Needless to say, we had a great time and went at least twice a week (following our hard labours up with a curry usually) however I can’t ever recall being ever formally inducted into Gym World, and if I had perhaps I would have taken personal fitness slightly more seriously. It was more of a social occasion rather than one for personal merit or with cellulite or back-fat on the mind and although we must have all been tremendously fit for such regular exertion, I would never have bracketed it in that dull, regimented and sombre of categories as “exercise”. Just like team sports (for those who enjoy them) don’t fall into the same margin as jogging or self-flagellation. 

After an awkward induction into the gym today I feel very much like I have condemmed myself to a regimen that I will very soon associate via my Scottish Puritanical roots with an ingrained guilt motoring a circuit of self-punishment. And just like the Scottish Puritains on a Sunday – you won’t enjoy any of it but you’ll do it because if you don’t the consequences are going to Hell. Or in my case, eating chocolate fingers and watching my bingo-wings drag along the carpet. 

So for those of us, who like me, are terrified of becoming our grandmothers, we join a gym in hopes that our souls can be spared. My induction today was an average gym induction. Soggy-arsed due to the very wet cycle in, I followed a very camp instructor mincing around the various torture devices along with two old dears and a shy good-looking boy who I think was French. The instructor kept on trying to encourage us to stay on for a 1-to-1 including a personal programme and a diet plan… I politely declined giving little solace in squeaking, “perhaps later”. 

Nevertheless, I have now joined the gym and I am returning tomorrow after class to attend the late night sessions. It shall be used on a regular basis – four times a week for an hour each time, and every time I feel terribly guilty about what I have shoved unceremoniously down my gullet. Some would say that is an unhealthy attitude towards my current lifestyle which to be fair is already quite well balanced but, is this just the 21st Century’s answer to what we originally used church for?

Go to church every Sunday and your soul will be spared. Go to the gym every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon and your backside will be spared (from dimpling and sagging). When you have sinned, spare your soul and confess to the Holy Father. When you have sinned, spare your backside and jog on a 15 degree incline at such a speed that you look like the Roadrunner on steroids until you sweat out your liver through that patch you always get just above your arse crack and feel so fucking good about it you reward yourself with a big scoop of Caramel Chew Chew when you get home… oh… shit. 

And the wretched cycle will continue thusly.

The House MD Drinking Game

September 28, 2008 - Leave a Response

True to form, a new term as a student has encouraged manys an alcoholic headache and to help others such as myself in a new place with lots of new people and an unhealthy obsession with Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the cynical doctor Gregory House – I give you – The House MD Drinking Game.

The rules are as follows, select at random an episode of House (series’ one to three are preferable), get some friends together each with their own glass of strong drink and obey the following commands together in unison to kick-start your night of debauchery the Princeton Plainsboro way!

Drink one finger of alcohol if any of the following happen:

  • House takes a Vicodin.
  • Anybody says the word LUPUS.
  • House says something sexually inappropriate in Cuddy’s presence.
  • House brings Wilson in for a consult.
  • An LP is being performed.
  • House makes a racist joke at Foreman’s expense.
  • Cameron talks about her feelings.
  • House ridicules Chase (being British/Australian/a pussy).
  • House plays with cane or a ball.
  • House is watching a soap opera.
  • Patient has an MRI scan.

The BIG THREE, drinkers have to down it all if any of the following happen:

  • It’s NOT LUPUS!
  • The team have to INTABATE!
  • House says “YOU IDIOT!”
Enjoy, and always drink responsibly, kids. xxx

Masters, Manchester, McNae’s Essentail Law

September 28, 2008 - Leave a Response

The blog has taken somewhat of a backseat during the past month or so due to the hellishness of leaving my job and delicious salary in favour of upping sticks to Manchester where I am currently studying for my MA in Journalism and my continued research in the bottoms of various wine glasses. Thusfar, neither endeavors are going to win me a Pulitzer but nevertheless I tirelessly soldier on!

I am grappeling currently with the two scariest modules of my course which are Teeline (a writer’s shorthand very similar in appearance to the mad scribbles of a toddler and with just as much clarity), and my McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists. Needless to say, a little knowledge makes you realise just how little you know and by merely opening these books and not actually accounting for their literary content much so far I have decided that I am completely screwed. 

My classmates are all very similar – friendly, clever and stiff competition. Not one toerag or wastrel that I can depend on to make myself feel better by comparison (not having done the preparatory reading or neglecting to show up for an exam). With my socks up by my nipples already in preparation for this course and my knuckles firmly on the desk I don’t really know what else save for hard graft and less hobbying about with the Pinot Grigio to see me through the year safely and with a little credibility. 

Manchester is everything I knew it would be. Manchester, like Morecambe from my days at Lancaster University, is one of those towns that up until recently I had only seen at night, whilst very pissed and with little knowledge of my surroundings save for my conscious mind being acutely aware that I wanted a kebab. One thing I could honestly take from Manchester is that the atmosphere was right and the whole place made me feel good. Leicester has this effect on me. Chester does also. London I find awkward, Edinburgh is always miserable, Birmingham is grotty and Loughborough reminds me of past crimes as a youth. I know when a gut feeling is worth following and Manchester fits the bill.

My course was obviously a huge incentive to move north – being NCTJ qualified will open doors for me in the Journalism world and having the skills that the course will give me, not to mention the pre-arranged work experience is going to give me a booster into a world in which I am still very much a rookie. However, my relationship with A, my strong friendships with Greater Mancunians from Lancaster and this unstoppable northern pull I have ingrained inside of me all contributed in their own special ways to my decision to forsake the midlands for the wild uncharted territories of Salford. 

After a week of living in the North West as a permanent resident (zero intention of settling down and finding a proper job in Leicestershire in the near future), I am contented and am making plans. Term starts for me on Wednesday and then I suppose I will have to adopt a more bookish demeanour than the excitable grin I am currently sporting as a perm fixture on my face but until then I intend to fully enjoy having left home and being my own woman once again.

Missscribbler’s A – Z of Cycling

August 6, 2008 - Leave a Response

I just read a short article on The Times website entitled “Boris Johnson’s A – Z of cycling”. The article made me chuckle and so I have compiled my own A – Z of cycling.

A – Ankles. Getting nipped by nettles when a big car pushes you into the verge on a narrow road. Also the pale and vulnerable body part that ends up catching the dirt spatters and bramble branches on rural bike rides.

B – Biker’s Bottom. A horrific infliction, soon appeased by a comfy (if very uncool) gel seat cover. However, for the duration of a spell of Biker’s Bottom you will have to suffer pain in sitting, mounting and dismounting bikes and cycling over cattle-grids. A bag of frozen peas helps a little if thrust onto the groin after a heavy-duty ride.

C – Cattle-grids. The veritable warpath of any ride. The horrible process of crossing a cattlegrid, regardless of at what speed, is never as pleasurable as you would hope bumping up and down like a pneumatic drill on heat. See B for Biker’s Bottom.

D – Dogwalkers. WHYEEEEE? Why must they walk along cycle paths with half a dozen yipping pups on the end of a spaghetti of leeshes barking at you before you’ve even tried to manouver around them? They are like the WW1 mines which look like oversized metallic conker shells. One mollecule to close and its game over.

E – EEEEEEEEEEEEE! The noise you make while bombing down hill at speed with your eyes shut praying you don’t bump into a tourist or a tree.

F – Fat Tourists. I have nothing against larger people but when there’s a family of you, side by side, heaving up the hill that veterans all know is vital to power up because otherwise the momentum goes, but no matter how much coughing or loud gear changing you do they pant and wheeze up that hill as if in some rubbish chorus line. Single file, please, people if there isn’t enough room!

G – Gravel. Skinny bike wheels are no match for this most innocent of drive-way blankets. The first couple of pedals are always a hilarious display of baby-fawn-like balance, or lack thereof. It does make brisk cornering more exciting though.

H – Helmet. Essential piece of kit and I don’t care how daft it makes you look. I know that the day I don’t wear my helment will be the day I get in to trouble so stick your oversized beatle on your noggin and pretend you’re Lance Armstrong.

I – Insects in the nose, eyes or mouth. The nose is a particularly hazardous one as in trying to blow it out it clings on for dear life in an attempt to emigrate up to your brain and lay eggs in some freakish nightmare secnario, if you are unlucky enough.

J – Jams. I.e. Jammed chain in between the chain mechanism and the bike frame. Very messy and time consuming operation correcting this. Usually occurs whilst changing gear too much on bumpy terrain. Messiness including oil on face regardless of whther or not your hands have actually come into contact with your face. Its certain.

K – Kids. Kids on bikes are infuriating as they tend to be much better at cycling than the rest of us because they are closer tot he centre of gravity, they don’t care if they end up in a pond covered in weed and they have limitless supplies of energy provided by Haribo. So on those uphill struggles where your rhythm is sure and you’re pumping those thighs like Hercules, it is very disheartening to see two little toe-rags zip by racing up the hill without any percievable effort being spent.

L – Legs. Lotsof leg work involved in cycling. Love your legs. They may be covered in nettle stings and spatters of mud byt he time you reach your destination but those legs are essential in cycling. It is very difficult to cycle without legs.

M – Morotised Granny Gears. Why would you even use one of those on a public cycle path, you’re just going to risk being spat at. However, when embarking on an uphill struggle you are the one eyed king of the land of the blind.

N – Nettles.

O – Omens. Always noticeable when cycling… for example, cows lying down – symbolic of bad weather ahead, means so much more when exposed to the elements without a waterproof.

P – Punctures. First the light hissing, then the loss of balance followed by the bike just giving up altogether and you being forced to fish out the tyre repair kit if you are of the Boy Scout persuasion, or else call a friend with a lot of boot space.

Q – Quest. Every bike ride is a little quest. be it a quest to work, a quest home for a plate of fishfingers or a quest to the shop to buy fishfingers. You are a modern day Knight on a quest.

R – Road Rage. Cyclists hate cars. Cars hate cyclists. Cyclists hate other cyclists. Lets face it, nobody who cycles for utility does it to make friends.

S – Seat Covers. Very uncool… however, essential if your daily route includes lots of hazardous terrain, see B and C. These gel bueties feel like an extension of the arse and take the edge off even the most devious of potholes. Mine changed my life.

T – Traffic. Haha! The roads are gridlocked but you can swish through back home with a very smug look on your face. Try your best to pre-empt idiots opening car doors suddenly to get out and take a look at the tail-back.

U – Unpleasantness. Comes by the bucket load with cycling, including driving over piles of horse dung, insects on face, sweat, mud puddles, chafing. Its not a life for the faint-hearted.

V – VROOOOOOM! The noise that big articulated lorries make when overtaking you. The world goes dark and the exhaust cloudls your vision and the noise is terrible, all you can think is “please don’t kill me”.

W – Wildlife. One of the many perks of cycling. Little bunnies, pretty birds, adhesive insects. They’re all there to jump in front of you causing you to spin into a bush. See N for nettles.

X – eXcitement! cycling is as much of a thrill as parachuting, if not more so! The slightest crosswind could cause you to flip onto a ditch or a single pothole could cause you to face-plant into the gravel, or if you are extremely unlucky, into another pothole. The speed, the velocity, the wind in your hair – it raises the heartbeat and the adrenalin pushes you on! And then you scrape all of the skin off the right side of your face following an unfortunate cattle-grid mishap.

Y – Yelling. Thats how people on Tandems communicate with one another and its blinking irriating. You’re on a Tandem! You are in no position to start a debate! If you need tot alk then try a pedallo or a ride on a rickshaw for a similar experience.

Z – Zzzzzzzzzz. Your reward for enduring all of the above.

There you have it, an alphabetised summary of cycling. Use it, heed it, experience it.


August 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

Shortly after writing my last blog I learned that my boss’s husband who my family have known for 9 years has died in a motor cycle accident. I am devastated for my boss who I feel is like an aunty to me and who has been for me whenever I have had problems both in and out of work. She gave me a job, her boys are best friends with my brothers and now she has to do it alone.

I am absolutely devastated for her and the helplessness combined with numbness and nausea are excruciating. What can I do? 

I had to tell my parents who are very close friends over the telephone on their way to the ferry port for their holiday. Telling your father that his friend has died is a horrible thing to do. Hearing your family in the car just out of discernable earshot is just as bad.

A can’t come, his car has a thing. I have the cat, she’ll do. I can’t believe it. I hope I’ll wake up and everything will be normal and my boss, the wonderful lady that she is, will be happy. I feel like a bomb has gone off and I’m swaggering out of the crater. What can I do? Her children are so young. I’m horrified and so numb.

My Curry Autobiography

August 1, 2008 - Leave a Response

There’s nothing more satisfying than successfully blackmailing your boyfriend to drive 200 miles to see you with only the two syllibal word, bhuna, to coax out those car keys. Luckily, A and myself have a mutual penchant for Indian food from only a select number of restaurants countywide that do our favourite dishes well enough. These Benchmark Balti Huts offer food so perfect that to eat their delicious creations is tantamount to sex.

My love of curry is well rooted. Coming from Glasgow originally, my parents can whip together a pretty special homemade rogan josh with huge, juicy lumps of chicken and using spice mixes tried and tested by friends and family from Scotland’s First City of Curry. The Ashoka, my first ever curry that was not cooked at home was an invigorating experience and the colourful tandoori pans, plates of nan bread and pots of chutney were not on only more delicious but more exciting than a plate of my Nanny’s “mince and tatties”.  A move to the Midlands town of Leicester saw any shy reactions to the ethnic wares sold in the family shops along Evington Road or in the covered market completely exploded and a takeaway Indian soon became a firm favourite over the common favourites amongst my peer group where man-handled Maccy Ds, monosodium glutemate jellied Chinese takeaway and greasy pizza topped the lists. Nothing, to me, could ever knock the curry off the top spot.

As a student. a curry was the choice way of ensuring that nothing goes to waste. My cumin pot and chilli pot always needed regular replenishment but with as little as frozen peas, a half-can of plum tomatoes, half an old onion and a frozen chicken breast – the fruits of ones labours were rewarded with this delectable spicy stew! Rice is cheap and lasts forever and on weekends I would make batches of vegetable curry to freeze for the weeks ahead, plumping them up with what ever veg I had and a little bit of chicken stock. Curry ought to be the staple of every student however the only sure-fre way to ensure that you have a bottle of Cobra to enjoy alongside is that you do it from scratch every time.

 Jarred or ready-meal curries are always glutinous or watery or drowned in saline gravy without even a sniff of delicious cumin or garam masala. I haven’t yet found anything good enough to substitute a good home-made or takeaway. To be honest, a good homemade reheat is always going to be preferable as they always taste much better from frozen than freshly made and they neither involve a maticulous recipe plan nor do they take longer that fifteen minutes to prepare.

After leaving university last summer, I have been trying my hand at all sorts of new ones incuding trying to recreate my personal favorite, the chicken dhansak, at home. Thusfar my inclusion of pineapple has been discontinued as it does not take the gastronomic fancy of my family nevertheless, my Jamie Oliver chicken tikka masala has always been well recieved. A recipe well worth trying. Still, Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook is always a good shelf-staple for perfect homemade curries.

I reminisce with great fondness of my final curries as a student, neither of which were made by me but both were far more delicious than I could ever have managed on my own. The curry place on campus was regularly frequented on a Monday evening by myself and my fellow art student buddies. We always had a whale of a time, daring eachother to eat the lime pickles and bitching and moaning about course tutours and drinking too much and generally keeping the waiters busy. On our final curry meeting, the regualr 5 of us mopped our plates clean. The senior chef, a stooped little Indian man with milk bottle glasses and the same wooly cardigan came up to our table with a box of the house complimentary mints. He never spoke except to ask how many to a table or to ask you what your order was but he launched into a huge monologue about how he would miss our custom and how he was sad to see his “regulars” leave. I’ll never forget that funny little man who probably met everybody on campus at some point and yet singled out our own little group (because in all fairness, our combined dinners for three years have probably paid for his childrens’ university fees).

My absolute final curry was with A on our last night (or rather MY last night as he graduated two years before me). Nice and Spicy was a takeaway ritual for every Friday night. Delivered to the flat and set out on my little desk in my student room for the two of us with a tealight in the middle of the table and Black Books or Peep Show on the DVD. This final curry was no different, exactly as it was every week except with piles of boxes and packed suitcases surrounding us on the floor.

My curry adventures have not all been jolly. My favourite haunt in myhometown gave me horrific food poisoning with undercooked prawns 24 hours before my flight to Paris. Only last month a very sedimenty red wine drunk with a curry at the same restaurant casued the most horrible of alcohol poisonings I have ever in my life experienced… and believe me, nobody I know had worse hangovers than I do!

Still, I know that somewhere down the lines I will find the ultimate curry and then I will be happy to die because life just won’t get any better! For my tastebuds anyway. If it weren’t for some of my more delicate friends and relatives then I would have to have my own wedding reception (and possibly ceremony) in my local curry shop.

Vive la balti! Long live the lime pickel! And have the fear of phal struck into you.