The Great British Bake Off 2016 – Semi Final

I didn’t have the energy to write about The Great British Bake Off last night. I was exhausted by the whole procedure and after treating myself to a large slice of rhubarb and raspberry crumble cake, I went to bed, hoping that somehow by the time I got up this morning, this post would have written itself.

Sadly that did not happen, and the day has sped away from me until there’s hardly any of it left, and what there is is overcast and gloomy. I feel like that about Bake Off itself, to be honest. There’s one left. Just one. I am already feeling bereft and it’s not even been twenty four hours since the last episode. Curse you 2016. You are a brutal task mistress. I can only hope I’ve done enough penance and general sacrificing to allow you to at least ensure Donald Trump falls down a deep mineshaft very soon. As it is, I had very mixed feelings about Sue’s jacket, which sported the word ‘Happy’ on the back. Part of me wondered how dare she be happy? Then I thought. ‘She’s in a tent full of cake. Of course she’s happy.’ Then I thought. ‘I want that jacket.’ Nicki says if I find the right jacket for me, she’ll get busy with the letraset. This made me slightly more happy.  I might have several. ‘Meh’, ‘Alright’, ‘Happy’ and ‘Fucking Livid.’ Nicki also suggested ‘Outraged of Knighton.’ I might have to get a coat for that one.

I digress. I have ten minutes before I have to worry about throwing dinner on the table, and it’s all yours. What doesn’t get done by then, stays undone.

It was patisserie last night. One of the greatest words in any language, anywhere, ever in my opinion, and they did us proud. No inexplicably weird things to make, nothing which had to be assembled with spirit levels and bits of balsa wood, just proper, delicious baking. Hence my emergency crumble cake ration. I broke the glass with a spoon and ate it in three bites I was so hungry by the end of the episode.

The first round demanded twenty four palmiers, two flavours, both savoury, twelve of each. Oh lordy lord. I’m salivating just thinking about it. Thank God dinner is nearly done. I love palmiers, but I’ve only ever eaten sweet ones before. I will be rectifying this before the year is out. They looked delicious. I wanted to eat every, single one, even Selasi’s and his were raw. He made salmon ones, which I think would have been my favourites, except for Candice’s and Andrew’s and Jane’s. You see my dilemma? Basically, whack any old ingredient in a whirl of flaky pastry, bake it till it’s crisp and serve it to me. Keep them coming until I pop. Don’t mourn me when I inevitably explode.

The technical round was called a Savarin. I am convinced I have eaten one at some point, way back in the mists of time, because I didn’t immediately make a ‘pshaw’ sound when they announced what it was, and I have a very clear taste memory of one. I have no idea where or when I ate one though, which is annoying. It can be rectified by me eating another one very soon.  I am willing to do this. I am very brave.

A Savarin is a sandcastle fortress shaped cake which looks a bit like sponge cake, but which is yeasted. Think Pandoro/Panettone type of thing. Add in sugar syrup and liqueur and decorate with whipped cream, shards of caramel and fruit and a pointless chocolate medal sporting the word ‘savarin’. Then eat with a dessert spoon, kicking anyone who gets too near you and shouting incomprehensibly with your mouth full. I believe that’s how it’s done.

It was boiling in the tent, which made the chocolate work tricky. The caramel wasn’t easy either, and Jane, whose bete noire this is, gave up in the end, shoving lumps of muddy melted sugar on top and disguising them with cream. I don’t blame her. I’m impressed she kept her temper. I’d have wanged a boiling saucepan at the nearest cameraman’s ear in her place. Sweat poured off everyone, Andrew looked redder and redder, and I did wonder if he might actually combust at one point. Sue had to keep wringing Selasi out like a damp towel in case he actually dribbled to the ground and seeped away under the tent flaps.

Only Candice really kept her cool and I thought she’d win this round hands down, but no. Apparently she was under proved, which caused her sandcastle to have poor definition and wobbly underpinnings. This basically describes my entire life. Andrew won, followed by Jane and then Candice. Poor Selasi trailed in last with a badly constructed fruit salad that mortally offended Mary. Nobody likes a badly constructed fruit salad.

Or one with banana in.

The show stopper was fondant fancies. This is something that Claire, Nicki and I all agree on. There was an influx of ‘Oh my God!’ messages passing from phone to phone as it was announced. The fondant fanciers of the UK were united in their excitement. Fondant Fancies are the holy grail. I have written about these extensively in the past. I have been known to bypass entire birthday cakes in order to eat Fondant Fancies. I have been known to eat them in the bath, I am that keen on them. Literally nothing could get between me and a fondant fancy.

This, in my opinion, was the best round of the entire series so far. The only thing that could top it in the final next week is if they have to make a croquembouche of Fondant Fancies. In which case I will surely die of pleasure.

The problems with fancies are many. Firstly you use genoise, which is the curse of me and apparently Candice, who was not happy. Then you have to get your icing and decoration super smooth. This was the curse of everyone, and me. Then they have to be small. This was a big worry for Selasi, for whom the word small is simply incomprehensible, although he did his best. Selasi is not small. Selasi is a great, beaming, bake god who radiates goodwill like other people shed dandruff. He has not time for trifles. Or fancies, it appears. They did look rather feeble, like he just couldn’t really get his head around them at all, even though he tried. Sadly, it was the end of Selasi in the tent, and it will be a poorer, drabber world without him.

Jane came a cropper by refusing to fanny about putting butter icing round her fancies to protect them from the rigours of the other icing. Consequently, the sides looked like a pebble dashed council house, no matter how wonderful the top looked.  Candice had gone for a lilac food colouring for one of her cakes, and it did rather remind me of a pensioner’s blue rinse. It wasn’t a good look. Not that I wouldn’t have scoffed one down in a heart beat, mind you. Andrew on the other hand, produced near perfect fancies of musical and edible joy, and came away with star baker to take into the finals with him.

I can’t even think about next week without sniffing and getting icing sugar in my eye.

Watch this week’s episode here.



Oscar is Ten

Dear Oscar

You are ten today. This is such a big milestone for you. I know how excited you are to reach double digits. I hope it’s as good as you want it to be. I have no idea what being ten will bring, I’m not sure you do either, but I think you’re more than ready for the challenge and I have no doubt that you will rock this year. You’ve certainly rocked the last nine. Every year up to now you’ve been worried about getting older. Last year and the year before you decided not to bother going up a year. You were just going to stick at seven. Seven was a great year for you. This year though, you’ve been full steam ahead for ten. It’s quite a leap, and I’m so proud of you.

Ten years ago this morning, you arrived in the world, a contented, moon faced baby in a terrible yellow hat. I’m sorry about the hat. I totally forgot to bring one, and yellow was all they had in the hospital. I tried to tell them it wasn’t your colour, but they didn’t listen. I promise never to make you wear a knitted, yellow bonnet ever again. I hope that makes up for the indignity a little bit. I hope you note the lack of yellow hats in your present pile this year.

Oscar, you are my absolute joy for so many reasons. You are funny, and sweet, and kind. You are brilliant to talk to and spend time with. You are gentle and lovely and still full of hugs. You are thoughtful and you try so hard in everything that you do, except maybe in tidying your room, because you know, you can’t be absolutely perfect right? And anyway, maybe ten will be the age you suddenly get the cleaning bug. You never know.

When you were small, and the girls were at school, you and I would have Oscar and mummy days. They were fantastic. You were a wonderful companion. We don’t get many Oscar and mummy days anymore, but every morning, for half an hour, before you go to school, and after the girls have gone, we read together. You’ve been reading me the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, and I have to say that it’s one of the best moments of my day, every day. We’re almost half way through the series now, and I really, really hope we carry on sharing them to the end. I love rediscovering them with you and I love that you love them as much as I do. Your knowledge and ability has grown with every book we read, as has your love of terrible puns and your ability to spot a euphemism from half a mile away. You also know an extraordinary number of synonyms for prostitute, so thanks for that, Terry.

I know that sometimes you worry about not fitting in the world. I know sometimes you worry about how you’re going to manage everything. I know sometimes you get a bit overwhelmed by everything.

I just want to say that you have always fitted in my world, Oscar. There is always a place for you in my heart and as my little boy, and right in the middle of our family life. You complete our family and make it perfect and we wouldn’t have it any other way. And I want to let you know that there is enough time to manage everything, and there is no rush, apart from in the morning when you need to get ready for school.  The world will wait for you, and just like you fit into us, and you fitted into me until you were ready to be born, there will be a place out there that is just the right shape for you when you’re ready to find it. Until then, maybe you’ll do me the honour of letting me look after you for just a little while longer.

And yes, life can be overwhelming, but if you take it one bit at a time, just like you did with Discworld, eventually you’ll have everything you need to tackle it beautifully. And if you need to take the next three years to perfect being ten, then we’ll wait, and so will the world.

I love you, my loveliest of boys. Happy Birthday. I hope ten is everything you dream of and more.

Sunday Sorting

I’m still here. It’s been a relentlessly grim week on many levels, which is about as fun as it sounds. I’ve been paralysed, blog wise for the last few days. I find I need to be angry enough to write, but not so angry that I feel overwhelmed. Also, I need to not be terribly sad, and I have been. When I’m feeling like that, the blog becomes a bit of a morass, rather than the life raft it usually is.

I’m still going through it, but things are on the up, so I’ve come out of hiding to blog about a few things that have been positive, because for the love of God, I could do with some positivity right now.

Firstly, I had a magnificent charity shop haul this week. A brand new ball gown for my collection for the princely sum of £12, a Jaeger suede jacket which screams Eighties vintage and has puffball sleeves, puffball sleeves for goodness sake, for a tenner, and a Jaeger linen shirt for £4. Colour me happy.

I read God is an Astronaut by Alyson Foster and enjoyed it. I’m now reading Thatcher Stole my Trousers by Alexei Sayle, and it’s making me laugh, a lot. This is pretty amazing, given the week I’ve had. My Amazon review stuff is also playing a strong game this week. I’ve just taken delivery of Grayson Perry’s new book ‘The Descent of Man’, and am waiting for the arrival of a book about mudlarking on the Thames.

I’ve been cooking using Diana Henry’s Bird in the Hand and her new book, Simple. Let me tell you that the Mumbai toasties are to die for, and the chicken and prawn xim xim is heavenly. The bacon and egg risotto is also pretty good, although next time I make it, I’m going to tweak it so that it’s more like a carbonara, but with rice.

Jason and I shut the doors on the world yesterday afternoon and started watching season two of Peaky Blinders. We’re three episodes in and I’m loving it as much as season one. Thank God Helen McCrory’s Brum accent has improved though. Last season it travelled more than I do.

I’m making progress with my edit the shit out of the book you’ve just finished writing project. It’s slow going, and sometimes very dispiriting, especially as I’d really like to be starting on the next project, but needs must when you over write things as much as I do.

It’s now officially half term. It means the alarm clock goes off for the next week.

I took my friend Alex to the Doc shop today, and even though I didn’t buy any, It was good fun, and we had an amazing lunch to celebrate his birthday on the way home.

Tomorrow, Oscar will be ten. Can you imagine? Can you even begin? I know I can’t. He’s the baby, you know?

The Great British Bake Off 2016 -Quarter Finals – Tudor Week

The quarter finals of The Great British Bake Off took on a decidedly historical air this evening, with the unveiling of Tudor week. I have to say that I had been looking forward to this with unholy glee for many reasons, not least of which was my desire to see Paul Hollywood look like a bit of a tit in a doublet and hose with a cold water pastry, lattice worked cod piece. When he strode into the tent in his usual, casual attire I admit to being wildly disappointed. Also, Mary would have totally rocked one of those head dresses with the Princess Leia ear bits and a tightly laced bodice. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to pay my licence fee. Am I the only person in the world who makes an effort anymore? Am I? Am I?

I’m actually typing this in a replica of Elizabeth I’s coronation robes, that’s how much of an effort I make.

Very few people know that she was actually crowned wearing a Primark onesie with rabbit ears and a tail.

The first round this week was to create spectacular savoury pies in a Tudor style. This did not mean executing people who annoyed you in their droves whilst forcing indentured servants to do all the pie making while you put your feet up on a serving wench. It meant creating ridiculously elaborate pies within which lay ridiculously elaborate ingredients. Ideally these would light up and rotate, or play the harpsichord or release a choreography of bats into the roof of the tent to spell out GBBO with their tiny wing hands.

The only person who even came close to that level of detail this week was the lovely Andrew, who was in his mechanical element with a giant cog based paean to engineering and pies. Nicki texted me at this point to say that her husband, Rob, had nearly fainted with desire at the fusing of two of his favourite things, and Oscar wasn’t far behind him. There were deeply appreciative oohs for Andrew’s efforts on our sofa, and we were particularly pleased that the cogs whirred, although I’d have liked mood music and a laser show, but beggars can’t be choosers.

In other pie news, Jane’s pies, despite looking a bit boring to me, threw everyone into ecstasies when they tasted them. Candice’s macaroni pie called to me, although there were complaints about texture issues, which I could well understand. It probably needed about half a tonne more cheese in. It never hurts in these situations. Benjamina’s flavours appealed to me most, and I’m sure Selasi’s would have been delicious if he hadn’t tried to recreate traditional Tudor smells with his game being so high it actually had to be coaxed into the pie dish and lashed down.

The technical round this week was to make a type of Tudor biscuit called jumbles. You’d think the word jumble would mean any old tat was acceptable, but no, Paul’s jumbles were items of precision and geometrical dexterity. The bakers had to make two types of jumble, one that was supposed to look like a knot, but which in most cases more closely resembled an elephant pooh, the other had to look Celtic. It was all points and encirclements and the like. It was this that proved to be most of the bakers downfall. Even Andrew got a bit of a sweat on, plaiting and knotting. Their ability to make friable dough resemble the wrought intricacies on the diagram sheet in front of them, became ever more elusive the more they tried. Apart from Candice who rocked the entire round, the others created things which looked like something you’d draw on a grave to open Buffy’s hell mouth. Benjamina’s in particular were what a kind person would call ‘interesting’ or ‘freely interpretive’.

In the show stopper it was all to play for as Jane, who had done so well in the first round, came last in the technical, and Candice who hadn’t done so well in the first round, rocked it.

Tensions were never higher than when it was revealed that the bakers had to recreate a three dimensional scene using the power of marzipan and/or marchpane. Marchpane is, apparently, the Tudor version of marzipan. Modern marzipan is soft, and melts droopily if you spend too long working it or get it too warm. Tudor marchpane is stiff and more solid, but tends to crack. As I watched them trying to fuse the disparate elements of their bake together it made me think of someone trying to build a house out of say, mashed potato and crisps. Neither is particularly fit for purpose and both are a bugger to work with.

Andrew, who I had high hopes of, given his great cog wheel of pies, kind of lost the plot with his show stopper, despite having a mould for his tiny horse, which made me think of Father Ted quite a lot. He was supposed to be making a jousting scene, but when he’d finished, his knights resembled Mr Hanky The Christmas Pooh, from Southpark, and the unfortunate place he’d put their lances made it look like they were having a wank rather than going into battle. I’m sorry to lower the tone, but it has to be said.

Jane grilled a lot of her marzipan, as did Selasi, and I’m not entirely sure why, given that every time they pulled it out of the oven it resembled those crumbly dog turds you used to find all over the place in the Seventies, and was distinctly unappealing. I’m sure there was a good reason for it all, but what it was, completely escapes me.

Selasi’s ‘bling’ version of Tudor crowns and swords ended up looking a bit shop soiled in the end, and Benjamina went home this week thanks to a gigantically fat rendition of a maze that looked more like the top of her cake had been infested by giant caterpillars of death.

This left Candice resplendent and deserved star baker with a tremendously elaborate marzipan peacock of such magnificence it led Sue to show off her world’s second best peacock impression, not once, but twice.

You can watch it here, if you want to catch up.

Next week it’s only the flaming semi-finals, innit?



Clown Killer, Killer Clown

Apart from the news that the Western world may soon be monopolised by elderly white men who think that sexually assaulting a woman is actually light hearted flirting (no change there then), and the fact that every time Theresa May mentions her Brexit plans the value of sterling plunges to 50p and a bag of grapes, we are also enduring an epidemic of killer clowns*.

What a time to be alive.

Apparently the clowns are already prowling the length and breadth of America. Some of them are even standing for the presidency. One in particular is unusually easy to spot. He’s opted for the less traditional bright orange pan stick, a mouth like a cat’s arsehole and hair like a distressed shredded wheat. Unlike other killer clowns he doesn’t carry any weapons, but if you get too close his signature move is to grab you by the pussy, so just keep your distance.

Due to the saturation of clowns across North America, some of the clowns are now in the UK, taking full advantage of our lax border controls, free NHS and benefits. When they’re not clogging up the job centres, scrounging tax credits or working cash in hand making angry balloon animals for frightened children in church halls up and down the country, they’re menacing local parks and schools.

Bastard clowns.

On a serious note, I imagine that bumping into a killer clown (despite the fact that to my knowledge they haven’t killed anyone yet) must be fucking terrifying if you’re taking your dog for a walk in the park last thing at night. I’m not that smitten with clowns, even in circus tents with all the lights on.

On the other hand, I did make myself laugh quite a lot wondering if the killer clowns, as well as wearing scary face masks, also wear hooped trousers and enormously long clown shoes. If they did, and I saw one looming out of the darkness at me, once I’d got over the initial terror, I’d be so bloody cross I’d totally go for them. I’d like to see them do a ninety degree turn and make a run for it without tripping over their shoes. Then I’d pounce.

If they got away from me there, I’m sure I’d catch up with them once they’d jumped into the getaway car, only to have all the doors fall off in the road.

*all the time I’ve been typing this post I’ve been singing Killer Clowns to the tune of Killer Queen, followed by Clown Killer to the tune of Psycho Killer by Talking Heads. Ready made ear worms. You are very welcome.

Letting You is not Consent

Writing doesn’t solve anything on a grand scale, but it does lift a little heaviness from my heart, and it’s really heavy at the moment.  I thought I’d start off with a topic that has had particular relevance to me this week.

Last week, audio footage was released of Donald Trump talking to ‘friends’ in 2005, about women. I say ‘talking’. I mean verbally brutalising. He talked about how his fame gives him a free pass to do whatever he wants to women. He talked about not giving women a chance to say no, because he just lunges straight in and kisses them, or ‘grabs their pussy.’ The other men with him concur tacitly that it’s brilliant.

Apologists have called this ‘locker room banter’. They say that all men think and talk like this, and if you don’t think they do, you’re naive. They say that the women Trump was talking about consented because he says on the tape that because he is famous they ‘let’ him do this to them. They say that women also talk like this about men, and we who are angry about this should get over ourselves.

I say that if you cannot see the difference between banter and an admission that you physically and sexually manhandled a woman without asking her if she was ok with it, then there is something wrong with you. That isn’t banter, that’s assault. There’s no ambiguity there.

I say that if you think women ‘let’ you do this to them, you are not understanding the fact that in this scenario, there was no option to do anything else. I would also point out that many women would be too shocked to retaliate, or frightened, or simply physically weaker and therefore unable to not ‘let’ you. Sometimes, for a woman, ‘letting’ someone do these things to them is the difference between life and death, and that’s not an exaggeration.

You seem to think that ‘letting’ someone do something is consent. It is not. It is often the only thing that is left to you after your consent has been ignored or denied.

I say that if you still cannot see the connection between what men say to each other about women and how that can have a direct and detrimental effect on how they actually treat women, you are deluding yourself.

I say that I have never, not once, spoken about a man, or a woman in those terms or ever thought it was appropriate to walk over and grab someone’s genitals without their consent. I have never felt it was my god given right to sexualise another person to the point where they become an object to satisfy my desire. I have never felt that my own pleasure overrides and denies someone else’s humanity.

I don’t know anyone else who has either, and if I were to meet someone like that, I would report them.

And before we get to the implications that this means I am a dried up, joyless husk of a woman who probably needs a good shag to loosen me up, I’d point out that I fucking love sex. I just prefer it to be consensual.

Over the weekend, author, Kelly Oxford asked women to tweet her using the hashtag #NotOkay if they had experienced sexual harassment/assault. She wanted to highlight that this stuff is not just ‘banter.’ She expected to get a few hundred tweets. She has received multiple tweets from women every second since she posted her request. On Saturday she got 9.7 million responses.

And still people are apologising for Trump and people like Trump. Banter implies something funny. This is not funny. This is obscene. Trump is not just talking. He talks the talk and the coding of it as ‘just banter’ allows him and others like him to walk the walk. Trivialising this as normal, denying that there is a link between how we perceive women, how we talk about women and how we behave towards women justifies and strengthens the bridge between talking about ‘grabbing pussy’ and doing it.

On Saturday, I had to take Oscar to a party.  I didn’t really have enough time to go home before I had to pick him up, so I did a little shopping, and wandered back to get him at half past two. It was half past two on a Saturday afternoon, in full daylight  on a busy shopping day. I turned into the street where the venue was, and walked through a group of men, hanging out, outside a cafe. There were about fifteen blokes there, standing on both sides of the street, clogging up the pavements. I walked between them in the middle of the road. Every eye was on me. All conversation stopped, and just as I got past them, the whistling and cat calling started. And the laughing. They were having fun. Just a bit of cafe banter. Just what all men do.

And I dealt with it, like I’ve always dealt with these things. I held my head up high. I ignored them. I walked past as if they didn’t exist.

And inside my chest, my heart was beating like a scared rabbit.

Because still, after all these years, you just can’t tell how it’s going to pan out. I wasn’t being provocative. I wasn’t being stupid. I wasn’t ‘asking for it’, and I say this with disgust because as far as I’m concerned, nobody is asking for it, but you know, there will always be the apologists who’ve decided that you deserved it because you were doing something you shouldn’t.  Someone I spoke to about it over the weekend implied that even though it was gross and terrible, at least it was an acknowledgment that I was sexy.

How do I even answer that? I get that they were trying to help, trying to give me a shred of something positive out of a horrible experience, but the fact is that it isn’t a help at all. It’s not their fault, by the way. It’s difficult to talk about these things. It’s like talking about bereavement. You struggle for the right thing to say, and sometimes, in an attempt to be kind, you say the wrong thing, and you don’t mean it. I get that, but it only highlights just how much we need to change as a society, so that being able to say the right thing isn’t difficult.

I accept that we as a species are supposed to find each other sexy. Otherwise we would never procreate. I do not accept that it is a person’s inviolable right to shove their sexual appetites in a person’s face if they don’t want it. I find Brad Pitt sexy. Even if I were to meet him I am never going to a) start wolf whistling him and clicking my tongue at him as he walks into the room or b) grab him by the genitals to show my full appreciation of the fact that I wouldn’t kick him out of bed. I don’t even eye up random strangers on the street and shout ‘Look at the packet on that!’ Because sexual attraction is fine, but sexual harassment is not.

I find it horrifying that people think we should be flattered enough to ignore what is essentially abuse just because someone has decided to verbalise that they find us physically attractive. Get this. It isn’t flattering. It’s creepy. It’s gross and it’s unacceptable.

How could it be that in 2016,  when I was on my way to pick my son up from a children’s party, I was still worried that what started out as verbal abuse, could get physical? What will I do? Was the panic stricken thought running through my head as I walked through them.   One woman against fifteen men. I would have stood no chance. Do you think anyone would have stopped to help? I very much doubt it. I wouldn’t have been able to not ‘let’ them touch me.

My ex-husband believes that the answer is that women should be trained in martial arts. He took Tilly to a four day course in Dublin to learn to protect herself. He doesn’t understand my frustration about this. He sees it as a practical solution to a problem. It is, but why aren’t we teaching men and boys to stop doing this, instead of teaching women and girls how to defend themselves against it? It makes me weep with rage and frustration.

It should not be normal that even walking the short distance between the pub and my house on a Tuesday night after pub quiz, that if I’m on my own I automatically slip my keys between my knuckles as an effective gouging tool, and never let my phone leave my hand, just in case I need to hit the emergency button.

It should not be normal that I had to use the @everydaysexism account this weekend.

It should not be normal that this morning when I checked Twitter, these two tweets were in my timeline from that same account.

‘Tonight after an event about Girl Up, a girl came up and said : “I’m 14 and in the past year I’ve been asked for naked photos 10 times”

At another Girl Up event an 8 year old girl came up with her mum and simply said: “I got my first unwanted dick pic a year ago”

It should not be normal that the majority of the outrage I’ve seen from men with regard to this weekend’s behaviour is largely: ‘This is disrespectful to my wife/daughter’. How about if it were disrespectful to women who you don’t talk about as if they were your belongings?

How about if you just felt it was ok to get angry about the fact that this is happening to women, and it is disrespectful to humanity, of which we should all be an equal part?

A week of two halves

There have been good things this week. I shall list some of them so you don’t think I’m a total curmudgeon.

I finished my writing project and have now sent it to test readers to await their verdict, due to the fact I still have no perspective on it whatsoever.

I am making great headway with my period related project. More of this next week.

I booked tickets to see Elbow (swoon) and The Human League (retro swoon).

I got Derek to the V E T with minimal altercations and without blood loss for all parties concerned. She had her vaccinations. Hopefully we will not see the V E T again for twelve months, cat deity willing.

Oscar’s first parent’s evening of Year 5 was a success and I like his teacher. We may be able to reduce the hours spent under the stairs…and the thrashings. That’s just for the teacher.

Tallulah joined guides, voluntarily. I feel that this is a tick in the competent parenting box. I am not sure why. I am also slightly worried about it. Again, I am not entirely sure why. Perhaps because it’s quite conformist. I’m not used to this. Maybe I’m concerned it will be Catholicism all over again. Please don’t make me accompany her to wood crafting sessions.

I am almost up to date with reviewing commitments and paperwork. Cue a tsunami of new things to do.

I have looked my bank account in the eye and done grown up things with direct debits and talking to bank tellers and I have not cried one bit. I have done quite a lot of teeth grinding.

I have bought presents and cards for the two parties Oscar is going to this weekend. I have remembered where all children are supposed to be and organised myself accordingly for an entire week.

In bigger news, I attended a meeting with NHS England and our Clinical Commissioning Group this week in which our community campaign group finally had their complaints about the closure of our GP surgery and the impact it had and continues to have taken seriously. There are plans to change some aspects of how patient/CCG/GP relationships are handled in future. There were also apologies. This may seem trivial to those of you who have never come up against the NHS before, but this is nothing short of miraculous.

Having said that, the NHS is still a screaming fire ball hurtling towards sure and certain destruction and there is no doubt in my mind that were we to be having this meeting, say, this time next year, I’d probably be across the table from Richard Branson rather than anyone in a public service capacity.

There are also things that are annoying the living crap out of me. To whit:

I woke up this morning with a huge spot, the size of Guernsey, just glowering on my middle aged chin. I am also full of snot and going around honking like a goose. It is not a look, or a sound I aspire to.

Vodafone have still not sorted out the problem with my account. I eagerly await the inevitable moment when they cut me off again, and/or them sending the bailiffs round for a supposed £530 bill that I do not owe them, and even they seem to be at a loss to understand, despite the fact that they generated it.

My bank cocking up this morning and informing me that I have been paying £33 a month to Sky TV for a service we haven’t had since last September, when in fact they just read their own paperwork wrongly. We only found this out after I spent a frustrating hour on the phone to Sky to try and find out where a year’s worth of payments had gone to. Still, I take back none of the frankly scurrilous things I thought about Rupert Murdoch.

I cancelled my Labour party membership today. I thought I’d done it a few months ago, but it turns out I just ripped up my membership card in a fit of pique and this does not count, because they don’t know that. Curse them. So I called up today to cancel it officially and the woman on the end of the phone could not have been less interested. She did not ask me why I was cancelling, or what they could do to make me stay (even the guy at The Times asked me that when I cancelled my subscription this morning). She even told me I could apply to them for a refund for the remainder of my fees.

This one, short and deeply unsatisfying call has really epitomised why I am choosing to leave the party after such a brief sojourn. It amply demonstrates all the shits they could not give about the ordinary voters/members. I tried to talk about this to a local councillor the other day and he was utterly dismissive of my belief that the party needs to focus on what its voters and supporters want. Apparently they know that, and I’m just not getting it. And there you have it. In a nutshell.

I remembered to cancel it properly this week because I am so utterly unimpressed with Labour’s inability to seize the day when it’s literally handed to them on a plate with trimmings. They did it after the Referendum, when instead of uniting and gathering the support of what was rapidly becoming the largest party in Europe to become a strong force to oppose the Tories they decided to have a massive playground spat. Now, in the week we have turned into brown shirt central and are encoding racism in our fundamental, daily legislation and turning our back on human rights, they’re doing it again.

As the pound continues to drop and racism continues to rise, while schools are asking what nationality the children are, presumably for when the purges start, I watch them fiddle while Rome burns and ask myself what the bloody point is.