Sunday 20th February 2011

Boy, blog-time comes round quickly!  Hope you all had a nice Valentine’s Day …  I haven’t had a Valentine’s Card since Saint Valentine was a boy, but was thrilled to see an ecard in my inbox on Monday. Can you even begin to imagine my disappointment though (serious face), when I discovered it was actually just a marketing tool from a supposed ‘Professional’ Women’s Organisation I’m a member of ?  (I was going to put a photo of a heart –  broken in two – up here, but this one was far more yummy!)

It looked completely genuine – which was what made it worse.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  I emailed them, but didn’t get a reply.  Professionalism’s the only thing stopping me naming and shaming them here and now.  It’s hard enough being single sometimes (especially on this particular day of the year), and to have that moment of thinking you’ve GOT a card – only to realise you haven’t – is really quite hurtful.  What’s wrong with people?  Ooh, don’t get me started …

I thought you might like a little song at this point.  You know the tune; sing along:

#When I wish upon a star, never gets me very far; any dreams I’ve ever had have not come true.  When I wish upon a dream, all my clever hopes and schemes, vanish like a warm ice cream, oh boo, hoo, hoo.#  Isn’t that lovely?  I wrote that myself, you know?

Let’s move on.  As I write this, I’ve been 14 nights without wine and pasta.  Last Wednesday was a bad day, and I SO nearly succumbed, but I didn’t, and I can feel I’ve lost a bit of weight now too. (God; isn’t it boring hearing somebody going on about how virtuous they are?  About as dull as listening to other people’s dreams.)  It’s mostly the pure joy of pouring a glass of nice wine and savouring the delicious taste that I miss.  I wish wine wasn’t alcoholic, as I drink it purely for the taste – rather than the effect. Better stop going on about wine now; my mouth’s watering even just writing about it!

My father usually buys the Daily Mail, but has swapped to that new ‘i’ newspaper as he says he hasn’t got time to read the Mail any more.  I keep all his old papers and take them to my office where they sit, playing mind games with me.  The pressure is awful.  There’s some really interesting stuff in there, and I love some of the “Straight to the point” one-liners in the letters page, but I do get very wound up sometimes by the constant daily reminders of how we’re being ripped off and taken for mugs by Bankers/Benefit cheats/Government Departments/Politicians etc, and yet, an interesting thing has happened to me in the last week.

I’ve managed to get to the bottom of the pile, and now have nothing to read in my occasional breaks, but NOT reading about doom, gloom and constant examples of people robbing and abusing the ‘Decent, honest, hard-working folk’ of this Country has had a real effect on my stress levels. I feel like Ed Reardon’s sister most of the time, but a week without newspapers has lightened my mood tremendously.  I just have a quick look online now, but only at the articles I WANT to read.  Very theraputic!

If you’ve never come across Ed Reardon by the way (and are the sort of person who despairs about the modern world but has a dry, wry sense of humour), then get onto Amazon and buy the CDs (the current Series on Radio4 has just finished this week, unfortunately).  I honestly think it’s one of the most delicious, ironic and beautifully performed Comedy Series ever to grace the airwaves.

TV Times

Donald Trump’s Apprentice USA continues on BBC1. It’s gripping and absorbing TV, and now (as happens over time in any show of this nature), the contestants’ personalities and strengths/weaknesses are beginning to show up.  I was disappointed not to see Ivanka this week.  Some might criticise Donald Trump for nepotism, but – as he says – his children have had to work hard to prove themselves to him.

Watching Ivanka is always a pleasure (she’s SO pretty!), as it’s clear to see that she’s not only observant, but thoughtful and very considered in her comments/opinions, and takes her role extremely seriously.  The Trump Empire will be in safe hands in the future if she and Don Jnr are as effective as this show portrays them to be.

I have to admit that Don Jnr scares me a little.  He looks so fierce and uncompromising – unlike Don Snr, who clearly has a wicked sense of humour (which you can often catch glimpses of in some of the little ‘asides’ you’ll hear him mutter to no-one in particular if you listen carefully).  I feel really quite nervous whenever Don Jnr’s on screen, alhough I suspect he’s probably got a whole different side to him away from the cameras.

Aimee’s departure this week was – as usual – swift and matter-of-fact.  The difference between Donald Trump and Lord Sugar, is that when he’s got that last three in the boardroom, DT gets straight it, nails the issue and fires the person responsible, whereas LS thinks it all through (out loud); lists the pros and cons (& raises the hopes and fears) of each candidate, then has an X Factor-style pause before delivering the fatal blow.

Speaking of X Factor (don’t worry, we’re not!), BBC’s MasterChef returned this week.  A new kitchen and a new format.  I didn’t watch it until Friday, but had already read a number of negative comments.  I can see what they meant.  MasterChef is NOT A GAME SHOW, it’s a COOKING CONTEST.  The ridiculous ‘dramatic’ music has increased 100% since the last Series (and there was too much then), and the potted histories and sob stories were a complete and utter turn-off.  (We really need some sort of campaign to stop this ubiquitous ‘suspensful’ music ruining every show on TV these days, don’t we?)

I would hope that the wave of protest against these first two episodes will be taken on board, and that the next Series will return to its usual – and perfectly good – format.  I do enjoy the show, but have to overcome several issues during each Episode.  I can only usually watch with the sound off  and the subtitles on, as hearing the narrator deliver EVERY single sentence in EVERY single Episode in EXACTLY the same robotic voice, and dropping the last word down automatically at the end in EVERY single case, is enough to drive me absolutely nuts.

This is (I think), the same woman who does all the trails on Radio 2, (and any other local/BBC Radio station I tune into, and whose voice miraculously seems to always come on at that EXACT moment).  I’ve got to a point where my stomach literally lurches whenever I hear her.  I’m assuming she doesn’t speak like that in real life, so why do it here?  Surely she must be able to hear it herself?  How can it even be possible to physically manage to read out thousands of trails which all sound EXACTLY THE SAME?

She’s not the only one.  That Gok One is another one who’s at it.  I can’t watch his shows any more – especially now he’s got so ‘up’ himself (No Offence!), because of the narration. EVERY line he reads, he drops his voice down in the same dirge-like tone at the end.  EVERY TIME. There’s a couple of reporters on Radio 4’s Today programme who do it too. Torin Douglas is one of them.  I’ve seen him on TV.  He doesn’t do it there, so why?

These people are employed to deliver information vocally.  If they can’t deliver it in a ‘normal’ and varied tone of voice, why are they doing that job, and WHO heard them talk like that and a) thought it was acceptable? b) took them on, and c) doesn’t mention it to them?  Surely I can’t be the only person who’s driven to distraction by it? Oh, God, I’m on a rant, aren’t I?  Sorry.  I’ve been wanting to get that one out for ages, but have been waiting until MasterChef came back on to vent …

Having said all that though, the funny thing is … India Fisher’s narration on the first two Episodes of MasterChef was actually … ok.  I started with the sound on (determined to hold out until it all became too much), but – unbelievably – she spoke in a softer, more engaging voice, and the range and tone were almost varied.  So much so, that I was able to listen all the way through without my blood pressure going through the roof and having to reach for the mute button.  Wonderful!  It’ll be interesting to see if she’s back to normal next week, or whether she’s discovered a whole lovely new range …

Ok: I’ve ranted too long on this one; let’s just “Move on”.

Quote of the Week

“In my mind, I’m always the best. If I walk out on the court & I think the next person is better, I’ve already lost.” Venus Williams.

Handy Hints

Never say ‘Yes’ when you mean ‘No’.  (Must try to actually achieve this one day … )

The supermarkets are awash with daffodils; my favourite flower (except those great big bog-standard yellow ones). Rather than just dump a whole bunch straight into one vase, pop 2 or 3 into little vases/glasses and have them dotted all over the house.  It’s so nice to see them, and it’s especially nice to have a little pot in your bathroom (it certainly is at my dad’s house, as it distracts my eyes away from the pain of the 1970s pink!).

Foodie Spot

I’d promised a photo of what I consider to be a cracking ‘Ready’ Meal (other opinions are available), but after having been into Tesco three times this week alone just for this one thing, I’m sorry to say that it’s been out of stock every time, so here’s a picture of a puppy instead.  To be fair to Tesco, they’re pretty good at keeping things in stock in Swindon.  It’s Sainsbury’s that I have trouble with, and have done for, ooh, many, many years.  No matter WHAT it is I go in for, I can guarantee it’ll be out of stock!

When I worked as a Housekeeper/Nanny for nine years in Wandsworth, there would NEVER, EVER be a week where (with at least one small boy in tow), I wouldn’t be ranting to (what passed for) the Manager, at yet-another gap in the shelves.  He always blamed it on ‘The System’, like it was some big ‘thing’ that nobody had any control over.  It’s not rocket science.  If you find you’re selling out of things regularly … just order more!  All I’m saying, is that after a while, it was funny how he was always ‘In a meeting’ on Friday mornings …

Even with things being missing every so often, I still adore the fact that we’ve got SO much fantastic stuff literally at our fingertips in Supermarkets these days.  We’re SO lucky – although I really wish they would all sell grated carrot.  Asda is the only one to sell grated carrot in bags you know?  (And don’t say I should do it myself; if I didn’t live with my father and was able to get into the kitchen now and again, I would!)

Like chocolate?  Of course you do.  Like chilli?  Of course you do.

Put them together and what have you got?  This. Available from Waitrose, or good Delis etc.  It’s SO rich, and SO delicious, but is perfect if you either a) don’t eat a lot of chocolate but just “Fancy a bit of sweet,” or b) are looking for something different and not sweet and sickly (as so much chocolate is).  This is ‘grown-up’ chocolate for the connoisseur.  Yum.

Like butter?  Of course you do.  Like a lovely salty hit now and again? Of course you do.  Why not combine the two, by buying some Brittany butter with sea-salt crystals.  Most supermarkets now sell it (I generally get  the Tesco Finest one), and it’s divine!

I don’t eat a lot of butter, but I buy a block of this and slice it into pieces, wrap each piece in a little bit of foil, pop them in a bag and then straight into the freezer.  Lasts for ages that way, and I can just grab a bit out when I need it.

Want to save a few calories/fat? Don’t butter bread on sandwiches if you’re using mayonnaise etc too.  You simply don’t need both (ESPECIALLY if you’re watching your weight). Use mint sauce from a jar (I use Tesco Finest with Balsamic Vinegar; delicious with just sliced tomatoes and black pepper), horseradish cream (mild, and great with smoked salmon), cranberry sauce, or any one of a whole range of relatively low-fat/calorie alternatives to mayonnaise/butter.

Other Odds and Ends

I was talking about not reading the Daily Mail.  I buy it on Saturdays (for the TV guide), was flicking through it, and found a perfect example of what gets me going: Ross Clark’s article sums up what upsets most ‘normal’ people in the UK – the hypocrisy of having to endure crippling cutbacks in public services and be fleeced by more and more taxes on your incomes, while millions of pounds are being squandered daily, and there’s not a THING we can do about it.

There’s been a lot of publicity about Waitrose ‘Baby Bottom Butter’ being the new ‘Must-have’ skincare product for women. It was the price tag of £2.54 that mostly appealed to me to be honest, but I’ve finally managed to get my hands on a pot, and it’s lovely!  Rich, creamy, silky, and well within my price range.  What’s not to like?  Don’t just take my word for it (after all, I’m the last person to advise on fashion/make-up etc!), check out this link:

Right.  As usual, I could go on for hours, but I expect you’ll have had enough for one day! Don’t forget: if you like it, tell your friends; if you don’t, please try again next week, and if you can’t wait a week, then follow me on Twitter: janereynolds8 (link at top of page), where there’s a daily stream of similar stuff … but in a lot less words!

Do leave a comment if you’d like to (stops me feeling I’m just sitting here writing to myself), and maybe even think of treating yourself to my book this week too?  A great book to curl up and enjoy on another grey old British winter’s day (unless you’re sitting in the sun in America, or somewhere equally exotic which will make us all feel jealous!)

OMG, nearly forgot.  After my WordPress issues last week, ‘Andy’man Andy hit it with a hammer – or something – in his office in Shepperton (or somewhere near there), and the apostrophe/comma issue is sorted.  Let’s see if I can finally upload duck and chook’s little video … Nope.  Try this one instead:  IMG_0447 It’s not the one I wanted (as that STILL won’t upload), but it’s better than nothing.  SO cute!

PS Did you see Rosie Webster explaining Twitter to Betty Turpin on Coronation Street this week?  Their expressions … just brilliant.  (My YouTube isn’t working for some reason so I can’t add a link, but if you key in “Rosie Webster’s Guide on Twitter” you’ll see it.  A gem!)

PPS At 2.00 Sunday as I was about to post this blog, the whole lot disappeared. Everything was there, but the whole text was gone and couldn’t be pasted in or accessed. It’s taken me half an hour to somehow recover it.  I feel sick as a pig (from the stress) as I type this.  Haven’t even had a coffee since 8.00 this morning.  Have I mentioned … I HATE WORDPRESS!


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