Sunday, 1 July 2012

What's in a name?

I was named 'Patricia' after Queen Victoria's grandaughter - Princess Patricia of Connaught. My dad must have thought he'd give me a bit of a head start in the 'class' department. Perhaps this is how he hoped I'd turn out.
Unfortunately, along with the elocution lessons, it didn't really work and I turned out more of a...
....only with longer hair! I hated the name 'Patricia' passionately. Names go in cycles and we can often roughly date a person's age by their christian name. (I fear there will be an awful lot of middle-age Kylies and Keanus at some point, all cursing their parents.) 'Patricia' is a 1940s name and I certainly wasn't born in the 1940s! This was also a bone of contention when I berated my poor dad for my christian name. But absolutely worst of all, I was never actually called Patricia! From day one I was known as...I can barely bring myself to write it down...PAT!!! Can you imagine calling a baby 'PAT'??? Even one with an excessive amount of chubby folds. No offense to any Pats reading this, but I hated it. Pat rhymed with fat, mat, rat, was not pleasant. Then at the age of 10 I had an epiphany! I discovered Pattie Boyd.
If a fairy godmother could have granted me one wish, it would have been that I would look like Pattie Boyd. I thought she was the most beautiful girl on earth and, not only that, she eventually married my favourite Beatle, George Harrison. That was it! I dropped the 'e' and told the world that from now on I was known as 'Patti' Little did I think of how I might feel about that at middle-age. Because, at ten years old, middle-age was a zillion years away, wasn't it? Now, yet again, I find myself hating it with a passion. It didn't help that I married someone with the surname 'Bright' For the last ***** years I've lived with a name that wouldn't look out of place on a doll at ToysRus!
However, I am assured it could be much worse. My O.H great grandmother appeared to have remarried at some point to a Mr Pink! Had my O.H grandfather taken his mother's new married name, I would now be PATTI PINK!!! WELL, NO I WOULDN'T. Even if my O.H had the looks of an Adonis, the voice of Owen Wilson (my favourite) and the money of Bernie ecclestone, I would not have married him with the surname PINK! When I lived in Texas, I became friends with a girl who also hated her name and was dying to change it. We lost touch and a few years later she popped up on the local television channel with an entirely different christian name and an exotic one at that. I always thought it was impossible to change a christian name but since then several people I know have changed theirs. I wish I had done that! My favourite name is my mothers - Kate. I researched my family history and there's a whole bunch of 'Kate's so why in gods name I ended up with Patricia, I'll never know. Is it possible to change? Well, y'know. I'm thinking about it. For a couple of people in the know, I have already assumed this identity in a certain area. So watch this space - there might be a Kate popping up somewhere near you.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Smells like the 1970s!

'Eeerrrwww! What is that?' I shrieked as my O.H wafted through the kitchen door smelling like a used car salesman.

'What?' he replied, sheepishly.

'It's you! Oh no. You haven't...'

'It was very big in the 70s,' he retorted defensively.

'It's 2012!'

'Well, I like it,' he snapped. 'Can't understand why you don't.'

'It reeks!'

'Perhaps my customers will appreciate it,' he said as he flounced out of the house taking a tidal wave of the 1970s with him.

'Where are you going?'

'Fairbourne.' (by the sea, for those of you that don't know)

'Well, go and stand on the beach when you're done and don't come back until that disgusting smell is halfway across the sea to Ireland!'

My O.H was wearing Brut. A 'fragrance' and I use that term loosely, that was unleashed onto an unsuspecting public in the 60s by Faberge. I have to admit, at the time, it was a revelation. Despite being labelled as 'The Essence of Man' I knew several girls that wore it.

When my O.H recently re-discovered it in a store, he was thrilled.

'Oh, this brings back memories,' he sighed as he doused himself in it while I found one of the masks we usually reserve for cleaning particularly stinky houses and glued it to my nose. It was my intention to make his Brut mysteriously disappear but he clearly doesn't trust me and keeps it well hidden.

Brut was supposed to be the smell of 'real men' and the heavy weight boxer Henry Cooper, the original 'face' of Brut told men to 'splash it all over' in an ad campaign -- and splash it over they did! The smell of it floods my mind with memories of sweaty lads, in a smog of Brut, loitering around the dance floor in the Leicester Top Rank Disco.

Philip Glenister reportedly wore Brut to get into the character of DCI Gene Hunt.

It isn't the worst fragrance in the world. In my opinion, that is definitely reserved for Old Spice. When I was a teenager I had a very nice boyfriend who had impeccable manners. He opened doors, walked me to the bus station after we'd been out and wouldn't leave until I was safely on the bus. Unfortunately, one day he appeared to take me to the ABC cinema and was drenched in Old Spice. I knew at that moment, our relationship was doomed.

My father - six feet two with hands the size of dinner plates - thought aftershave/cologne was effeminate. The only thing manly enough for him was Brylcreem, which he pasted on his thick black hair, driving my mother mad as she could never get it out the pillowslips when she washed them.

I remember watching him shave one day and I suggested he get some aftershave.

'Aftershave!!!' he said, horrified. 'Only ********* wear stuff like that.' I won't tell you his actual words as they weren't particularly politically correct, but he firmly believed that any man that splashed 'scent' on himself wasn't a real man. He also felt that way about chocolate. According to my dad, only ***** ate chocolate!'

And it's odd how old attitudes rub off on you as a child, because when I first met my O.H I recall looking at him a bit suspiciously when I discovered he could easily eat a warehouse of Cadbury's!

So folks, I am now about to search for that odious bottle of Brut before my O.H decides it's also cool to undo his shirt buttons to his waist and wear a medallion!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Cleaning Lady Escapes!

Yes, I escaped. I went to London for a long weekend to see my son, Kristian, and I stayed at a gorgeous flat in Wapping (which belonged to my son's lovely girlfriend, Nadine.)

I remember Wapping in the 70s when I lived in London. It was grimy, seedy and not a place you'd particularly want to be. But now? Cobbled streets and converted warehouses. A lovely place to live. In fact, a lot has changed in London since I was a single career girl living in the big city. The tube trains are smart, clean and efficient. In my day the trains were filthy and people smoked on them. Floors strewn with discarded butt ends. There's nothing quite like being packed into a tube at rush hour and have a sweaty bloke puff his Players No6 in your face all the way home!

So Wapping was fantastic as was the rest of my weekend. We went to Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square to see the Olympic clock, the National Gallery to see Van Gogh's Sunflowers and a few other famous paintings, had dinner at a very nice restaurant and then a massive surprise for me - tickets to see Blood Brothers! Which was fantastic!!!

Next day, up early, bacon sandwiches and a lovely, long walk from Wapping along the Thames, across Tower Bridge, passed Boris's house and onto Borough Market.

London's oldest food market. Atmospheric and....

...mouth-watering. So much gorgeous food.

A roast beef bap and then...

...a saunter over the Millennium Bridge to St Pauls and on to the Museum of London for another surprise - tickets for the Dickins Exhibition.

Sunday was spent in an aromatic heaven.

Columbia road flower market.

Brick Lane Market.

The Boiler House Food Hall - Brick lane.

Sunday lunch in...

...The Mayflower.

What a fabulous weekend and all thanks to Kristian and Nadine!

But my escape didn't end there because just two weeks later I was with another of my sons, Stefan, at the awesome...

Rammstein gig at the LG Arena, Birmingham!

So, after that totally brilliant February, I expect I'd better get back into my Cinderella rags and go and clean someone's house!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Valentine's Day! Is romance dead?

With Valentine's Day approaching, thoughts are turning to romance and a couple of stories in our family histories seem, well...very romantic.

My grandmother once told me that my great, great grandmother was a well-to-do Irish 'lady' who fell in love with her butler and ran away with him from Ireland to Liverpool where they set up a 'love nest' and had two children. Whether or not that is true I don't know. My grandmother was a feisty old bird with many, many stories which she enjoyed regaling to us whilst wearing her mink coat (she was rather well-off) and sucking noisily on what she called 'pep-mints'.

My other half has an ancestor who was a blacksmith who went away to war, fell in love with a dark-eyed Romani woman (who strangely was also a blacksmith) married her, brought her back to Wales where upon they lived happily ever after with their large brood of children.

Now that IS true and I have to admit - very romantic.

Sadly though, I'm not in the least a romantic soul. That was killed stone dead when at thirteen, Michael Sparks (the most fancied boy at school) told me I was the only girl for him and twenty minutes later was snogging Prudence Wright on Glenfield Golf Course. And Prudence, wherever you are in the world - I still haven't forgiven you!!!

That was it! Stuff all that sweet talking malarky. From that day on I wanted love shown in tangible, practical ways that demonstrated true affection and thoughtfulness not a quick kiss and empty, meaningless promises.

I'm unimpressed with chocolates and champagne, soppy poems and cards. Lead me to a bedroom scattered with rose petals and all I'd be thinking is 'who's going to have to clean that lot up? Me, I suppose! Where's the Dyson?'

For our first wedding anniversary I bought my O.H a coal scuttle.

Yes, I know it wasn't very romantic.

But I saw it as being thoughtful because he was forever complaining about the rusted old bucket he dragged to the coal bunker outside our cottage.

I once bought him a carpet stretcher (as you know, he cleans carpets) He didn't seemed particularly thrilled at the time but hey, wasn't he always saying ' if only I had a carpet stretcher.'

And what about the time I bought him some furry inner soles for his shoes?

See, practical and thoughtful! And yes, he was pleased with those as his feet were always freezing in the winter. Isn't that better than a mushy card?

And now you are all feeling really sorry for him, aren't you?

However, seeing as it's nearly Valentine's I decided to do a little internet research into this whole 'romance/Valentine's Day thing' and believe it or someone described Valentine's Day as a:

"A Road Chef (Little Chef) on the highway of love. It's a place where you could stop and buy a tasteless but expensive meal or you could just take this opportunity to park up with the one you love and appreciate the journey you've made together"

Well now, once you've stopped gagging, I will explain the above quote came from a French person -- need I say more?

But it would seem that people don't necessarily want roses and chocolates or a petal strewn bed and champagne. As nice as they may be, research shows that people would prefer little gestures that say 'I care.'

They want a thoughtful little phone call in the middle of the day to ask how they are.

A nice meal prepared for them when they get home from a hard day at work.

A lovely, hot bath run for them when they are tired.

In other words, thoughtful yet practical ways that say I care about you.

So I was right, after all.

On the other hand, I wouldn't say no to this!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The holidays are over - thank goodness!

During December 2011 I longed for the xmas holidays. We were so busy - cleaning carpets in hotels & homes, spring cleaning houses so they were nice for visitors or just because they were going on the property market, rushing home and cleaning offices and then all in between this madness working on our new online business. It was crazy and how we got through it all without having a nervous breakdown I'll never know. I suppose what kept us going was the tantalising thought that come xmas eve we could down tools and R-E-L-A-X.

I had it all planned. I was going to spend the entire day in my pyjamas, eat my own body weight (ahem, that's rather a lot) in Roses chocolates, and drape myself across the sofa whilst watching endless television.

I yearned for this wonderful break from work. I dreamt of these few days when we were going to do -- absolutely nothing.

By eleven o'clock Xmas morning I had decided that being in PJs all day was slightly stupid especially when I had to go out into the garden to pick up after my dogs. (Pyjama wearing woman spotted in garden with a pooper scooper!)

By three o'clock in the afternoon I was sick of the sight of Roses chocolates and by seven o'clock I was sitting, crossly, on the sofa telling anyone that would listen that TV was not like it was in my day when on xmas day we actually had television programmes worth watching!

Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special!

By Boxing day I was at my computer, hoping some other bored souls would be buying from our online shop and by the bank holiday Monday if anyone had asked me to clean out their oven or scrub their bathroom, I'd have jumped at the chance.

I guess what I really need is to get away to somewhere fun and interesting over the holidays because being a couch potato doesn't do it for me.

So next xmas - God willing - I'm going to find somewhere nice to go. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

How I'm dealing with my Nuisance Phone Calls

'Hellooo,' squeaked an oriental voice on the crackling phone line. 'Can I speak to Meeeseees Patreeeeca Briiiight, pleeese?'

'Who are you?'

'Pleeease, must speak to Meeseeees...'

'She's not here,' I interrupted abruptly. 'She's in prison - for murder.'

'When will Meeeses Patreeeca be in?'

'Twenty years.' I replied, slamming down the receiver.

For some reason for the past few months I have been bombarded with telephone calls from a certain company. Every single day there is at least two calls from a woman that sounds either Chinese or Japanese and a man with an Asian accent. They both work for a company called 'Consumer Lifestyle' and they are both doing a 'survey'. I have told them not to ring me again. I have been nice and I have even been rude - most unlike me. But they will not give up and seeing as I HAVE to answer the phone for business reasons, I have resorted to saying the most bizarre thing that pops into my head, hence me telling them I couldn't answer the phone because I was serving time for murder :)

I have also told them I'm unavailable because I'm currently on a space mission to Mars/rowing around the world with Prince Charles/climbing Everest with Owen Wilson and painting the Eiffel Tower pink. It doesn't faze them one bit. They don't even act surprised when I come out with it. They just ask when Meeeeseeses Patreeeeca is going to be in!

They call - every single day without fail and it's really annoying me.

I think I made a huge mistake about a year ago when, because I was so fed up with people calling, I actually did a telephone survey with one of these companys and now I must be on some list somewhere!

The survey I did was bizarre to say the least. Each question had multiple choice answers which were: A)Definitely B)Maybe C)Would think about it

A snippet of the survery went like this:

Woman: Are you considering blinds for your conservatory? Definitely, maybe or would think about it?

Me: No.

Woman: There isn't a no. It has to be one of the three choices.

Me: But I don't want blinds.

Woman: But you have to choose. It's the rule.

Me: Why isn't there a no?

Woman: Please choose one of the three.

Me: Oh well...what's the least choice?

Woman: I'll put you down for would think about it.

After completing the survey I was then bombarded with phone calls from various companies.

'Hello. You have expressed an interest in having double glazing.'

ME: 'No. I haven't.'

'Ah. But you did a survey and said you were interested in double-glazing.'

ME: Yes, but I wasn't REALLY interested. I just had to choose the least one.'

'Well, we've got you down as interested. One our our reps is in the area...'

ME: 'For crying out loud I've already got xxxxx double-glazing!!!!'

If it wasn't double-glazing it was conservatory blinds, garden landscaping, life insurance, pet insurance, mobile phones, computers, television - you name it they called.

I was asked to sponsor leopards, tigers, donkeys, guide dogs for the blind and half of the children in the third world. It wouldn't have surprised me if I'd been asked to give money to the Eurozone crisis! ('Hello, we understand you are interested in helping Greece with their debts???)

And now I have the terrible twins calling me daily. No matter what I say, they still call religiously. I googled 'Consumer Lifestyles' and apparently they are bothering a lot of people, judging by the irate postings on various forums!

So, now I wait for their next call. What shall I say to them next time?

Suggestions, anyone???

Friday, 11 November 2011

Dogs must be kept on a you think your dog is the exception???

Please tell me, people. What is not to understand about that sign?

You are walking across a field, where although sheep are not currently present judging by the sheep poo everywhere, clearly they occupy the field on a regular basis. Plus there's a blooming great big sign telling you your dog should be on a lead!

Obviously some people think it doesn't apply to them because this morning, very early, we took our little dogs for a walk. We go early so as to avoid coming in contact with other dogs because our dogs are so small and lately there has been some horror stories of small dogs being killed by larger ones.

we entered a field that runs alongside the river, dogs are allowed here if they are on a lead and there is a big sign saying just that 'dogs must be on a lead' No problem for us, we never let our dogs off their leads. But in the distance we saw a man walking in the far field and he has a dog running wild and free. We kept a close watch on the dog and decided to leave the field and walk across the old bridge. The dog, a sheepdog, soon caught us up. His owner still walking nonchalantly along some way behind.

The sheepdog bounded up to one of our dogs and nipped it. It probably just wanted to play but immediately I shouted at my husband to pick our dog up. This made the sheepdog react. He threw himself at my husband, biting his arm and his leg. He clearly wanted him to put down our little dog. We tried to get away from him by leading our dogs behind an old, disused toilet block but the sheepdog followed. All the while trying to bite our dogs. We shouted at the dog and we shouted at the owner - who still wasn't bothered. We tried walking away, we tried standing perfectly still but the sheepdog kept attacking us and in particular my husband who was being bitten by the dog as it jumped up at him. My husband tried putting our dog on the ground hoping the sheepdog would lose interest, but that just made our little dog immediately flattened himself on the floor in terror because the sheepdog starting nipping him again.

My husband, trying to keep the sheepdog at bay, yelled at the owner to get his dog under control. The owner now woke up to the fact we were in trouble! He tried but his dog wasn't listening, he just kept on throwing himself at my husband trying to get our dog out of his arms.

Eventually, the dog ran back in the field and the owner managed to get him on his lead.

'Didn't you see the sign?' my husband asked him.

His reply, for some reason, was to tell my husband to 'shut-up.'

It all ended all right - this time. The owner eventually apologised. But we were really shaken and our dog is now traumatised.

My husband said: 'It was awful. I've read of owners and pets being attacked so many time in the paper and suddenly I was one of them.'

So, please, please. If you are thinking of getting a dog and you want to go for walks get a big dog, one that can stand up for itself if it gets attacked. And if you have a big dog, please keep it under control. Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock Act 1953) and the Dogs Act 1871 you have a responsibility to keep your animal under control. Your dog could be put down, even shot by a farmer if caught worrying animals.

I think it will be awhile before I go out dog walking again!