Happy Blogging Birthday

A year ago today, I started this blog!

As the title suggests, the intention was to record how my career after the Beeb panned out.  I think I imagined that a year on I would have a regular job by now, though no idea what sort of job that would be.  That has not been the case but I have had a fantastic twelve months and just can’t believe it has gone so quickly.

In that time, on this blog, I have written about

–        my boobs

–        my history with the BBC

–        my leaving gifts

–        my leaving party

–        my various observations on lifw

–        my family history

–        the whole business of getting old (several times!)

–        the benefits of vitamin D (and I still haven’t had a chest infections since I started taking it, so it really is a miracle drug, as far as I’m concerned)

–        the highlights of 2013

and in addition, I find I’m a sucker for a questionnaire, and have answered quite a few!

The most viewed post was my tribute to the late Alison Ford and that seems fitting for such a wonderful woman who I still remember fondly and still can’t quite believe has gone

From time to time I have caught my husband reading the blog, rolling his eyes as he does so but then, when he lets out a little chuckle, I feel almost triumphant.

The children insist they don’t read it but then my daughter gives herself away by berating me for making it so “TMI” (Too Much Information….apparently)!!  She is horrified that I have written about my underwear and hinted at (shock, horror) a still physical relationship with her father….she’s such a prude!

My son has no worries about such things but was very put out when one of his friends burst into his room at uni early on a Saturday morning after discovering the blog.  She made him stay awake while she read out several posts.  Obviously, I loved hearing that.  Him, not so much….

So in terms of what I have actually been doing in the last twelve months in terms of work, there has been plenty of acting, writing and yes, as many people predicted…..I have returned to BBC News on a freelance basis. And I have to admit it’s great and certainly got the adrenaline rushing again in a way that nothing else manages to do.

In terms of the blog, my posts have been a little sporadic but I’ve had fun writing them. I’ve no intention of stopping yet and look forward to penning lots more.

Thanks to all who have followed and left comments, texts or emails.  I love the different messages – it really is special.  And I also love reading the blogs that I have discovered as a result, and the special community that I seem to have become a part of.

Here’s to the next twelve months, although please, can this year be just a bit slower….

Fifty for Fifty

I have nicked this from one of my favourite bloggers, Ian at http://mrwriteon.wordpress.com   I have said before on this blog that I love the way he writes.  I find I am drawn to good writers like I am to actors.  I constantly fall for them and find them very sexy for no other reason than they are talented in a way I would like to be.  Anyway, enough of that, go visit him – he’s great ! 

A little while ago, he posted fifty questions to answer and so I thought I would brazenly steal them and then save them for the right occasion.  And given that today is my fiftieth birthday, what better time to use them….

1. Does anyone know your passwords beside yourself? No – and I barely know them myself as I keep forgetting them but refuse to write them down anywhere

2. What was the last thing you ordered at McDonalds? I really don’t like McDonalds or any other fast food outlet as the food always looks and tastes so plastic.  Apart, that is, from a good old KFC bucket which is sinful and disgusting but I just can’t ever resist

3. Are you an emotional person? Yes, especially at the moment.  Can’t decide whether I’m happy or sad about being 50.  Laughing hysterically about nothing one minute and then sobbing uncontrollably the next.  Pathetic!

4. Do you like your middle name? I haven’t got one!

5. Do you believe in love at first sight? I suppose so.  Although really, it’s actually more an instant attraction as isn’t real love what develops as your relationship goes from strength to strength?

6. Does the person you like, know that you like them? I’m 50, not 15 !

7. What was the last thing you did? Woke up and wondered how I was going to get through today and decided to start by filling this in!

8. Wherefore art thou, number 8? What does that even mean??

9. Who was the last person you ate with? Well the husband just bought me up some coffee and toast, with a rose for my birthday, but he didn’t stay to eat with me as he could see I was writing.  Think he thought I was doing something worthy, like the new script that I’m supposed to be working on!

10. What song are you listening to right now? No music, just the dulcet tones of Bill and Louise on BBC1’s “BreakfasT”

11. How’s the weather right now?  Don’t know – it’s still darK!

12. Last person who called you? Mastercard – to find out if I am ever going to pay my bill !!

13. Last lie you told? That I’m not bothered about turning fifty

14. Last song you sang? “Crazy” at a birthday karaoke evening, just last night

15. Do you love anyone? My family…..when they’re not getting on my nerves

16. Lost a friendship over something stupid? I don’t think so

17. Last thing you drank? That coffee the husband just brought up

18. Last thing you ate? That hot buttered toast the husband just brought up

19. Where do you wish you were? Somewhere, anywhere, in Italy

20. Faked being sick to miss school? Never!  As an only child, I loved school because it was just one big social club for me

21. What time did you wake up today? Far too early, after a night of tossing and turning and angsting unnecessarily about reaching half a century

22. Last person you talked to in person? Husband

23. Last person who made you laugh? Husband (He said I may be fifty but I was “still bloody damn sexy, man” – he doesn’t normally swear and that, along with the use of the word “man” is what made me laugh!)

24. What are you wearing right now? Still in bed, so just husband’s t-shirt

25. What’s the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? In order: eyes, hair, teeth, height, breadth, shoes.  Same as a horse, I suppose

26. S’posed to do something with 26. Oh!  Well…when I was 26, I got married

27. Where are you right now?  Like I said, still in bed!

28. What day and date is it? It’s Tues 4th Feb – MY BIRTHDAY !!!

29. Did you go anywhere today? No, I’m STILL IN BED. Jeez….

30. What did you do there? In bed?  Use your imagination.  It is a birthday after all…..

31. What else are you doing today? Not sure yet.  I think the family have a plan!

32. Are you watching TV? Yep!

33. Are you mature or immature? I aspire to be mature but my children say it is very immature that I start giggling whenever I hear rude words that end in -ck

34. Who are you closer to, your mum or your dad? Well, my dad is dead now so by default that leaves my mum

35. Thirty-five. That’s how old I was when my dad died

36. What school(s) did you go to?  An infant, then junior, then high school

37. What’s the most annoying thing people say to you? “So, what are you up to now – still no job?”

38. Do you like music? Yes, I love it but my taste in music is quite wide and not at all cool.  In fact, I’m slightly embarrassed by my playlist!!

39. Did you want to get married? Yes – I drew the wedding dress I wanted when I was six!

40. What does the number 40 evoke? I really enjoyed hitting 40 but once I got to 41, I was SO over it !

41. Where did you go on vacation last year? Actually we didn’t go away together on a big family holiday. With exams, work and projects over, the whole family had time off from early June and we had a massive staycation rediscovering our fabulous city of London which is always glorious in the summer.  We went on days out and trips to the theatre and generally had a great time getting to know each other again.  It was lovely!

42. Would you bungee jump? Don’t be stupid!

43. Do you like rollercoasters? No!  But I get dragged along to a theme park every few months by the family where I try to put on a brave face.  I have low blood pressure though and so once I’ve been on the first big ride, I spend the rest of the day in a daze, not really knowing where I am or what I’m doing!

44. Is there anything you wish for every summer? Hot sunny weather with plenty of time to go off on picnics and days out

45. Do you use chopsticks? You see, I think chopsticks are a brilliant weight loss gadget.  I am so rubbish at using them that it takes me ages to finish everything and so I eat far less ! But I’m too proud to ask for a fork…

46. What’s your favorite meal of the day? Every meal…

47. Thinking of someone right now? No, only me!

48. Concerned about life right now?  I have to admit it all feels a bit grim.  Suddenly, I have an overwhelming feeling that I’m going though a major life event with some big worries and some very petty ones but I constantly feel I have to keep them all to myself and hold it together when really all I actually want to do is scream very loudly!  Well, you did ask…..

49. Have you ever tripped going up the stairs? It happened as I was coming up from the Underground yesterday.  Mortifying, but I pretended nothing had happened

50. How do you feel about the coming of fall?  Fall??  Do you mean Autumn, or the Fall of Man because that’s far too philosophical to go into here.  And Autumn is months away.  I have written on this blog about how it is my favourite season, but once the rest of this awful month is over, we have gorgeous Spring and then the long lazy days of Summer to get through before then.

So, in spite of everything, I’m actually looking forward to this year.  It should be fun!

Turning Fifty

In a couple of weeks, I will become a quinquagenarian. I will join the ranks of Michelle Obama, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Phoebe from “Friends” and Will from “Will and Grace” who also turned fifty in the last few months and who all look better than me!

Apparently 50 is the new 30.  It is not!  It is 50.  That is half a century.

HALF A BLOODY CENTURY!!!

OK, breathe!   The thing is, it’s not actually such a big deal.  It’s probably best to ignore it altogether, because otherwise turning fifty seems to be a reason to celebrate wildly or hit the depression slide.  I don’t want to do either but I feel it’s too big to ignore and that it needs acknowledging in some way.  So, I thought I would use the blog to work out the good and the bad of this momentous milestone…..

People keep asking me what I am going to do to mark this big birthday and so far I have managed to avoid answering.  However, the fact that no gilt-edged invitations have gone out should be a clue that the answer is a big fat NOTHING.  I’m not in the mood for a party.  I’m more in the mood for a wake as it feels like an occasion for mourning.  I don’t want to pretend to be jolly about something that quite frankly, is pissing me off !  

A part of me wants a spectacular party.  I like a party.  I like entertaining.  I like being the centre of attention.  But all I can think about is the effort it will take to organise a bit of a do when I don’t want to really acknowledge that I have reached an age where I have started to creak a bit.  And I don’t want anyone to do it for me as I’m a bit of, OK a total, control freak.

I suppose the big “five-oh” is no longer an age that sees the start of the twilight years with only the dreaded menopause and Saga cruises to look forward to.  Now that life expectancy for women is at least early eighties, being 50 is still relatively young.

And if I’m honest, I don’t really feel very much different from when I was about 19. I still have that enthusiasm for a good time, still have some of my friends from back then and embarrassingly, still listen to pretty much the same music.  When I met Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet a year or so ago, I couldn’t have been more excited if I was still a teenager.  So nothing really changes!

A male friend told me he enjoys being 50 because now he appeals to the older ladies….. and the younger ones. I admit to feeling slightly envious.  There was a time when I walked into a room and people noticed. Men noticed!  I would see them do a quick double take as I walked past in my tight jeans or short skirt.  But that was long ago. Men don’t flirt with me like they used to and if they do, it’s in a kindly “make the old lady happy” way.  Most of the time, they don’t even notice me.  I am invisible…..and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. 

I am fortunate enough though to be pretty healthy and although my face has fallen a bit, it’s passable once I have spent some time buffing up.  I’m fat but after fifteen years of being a “larger” lady, I’m used to that now and can’t be bothered to fight it. Besides, if I lose weight now, my face and neck will look scrawny and gaunt.  Best to keep the fat to help plump out any wrinkles!!  That’s my excuse anyway!

One day, I’m quite determined to become an old eccentric wandering around London wearing purple with a red hat, striking up pointless conversations with people I like the look of and shouting wildly at people (probably youngsters) that I don’t!  But although I’m getting on a bit, that’s a long way off.  I don’t think my mother could even get away with that yet, and she’s 70!

That reminds me – one of the perils of getting older is looking in shop windows. The last time I did that, I thought I saw my mother and realised, with horror, that it was my reflection!

On the whole, I think I should thank the years as I’ve had fifty good ones:  great parents; a fun childhood with the freedom to play out on the streets or in the park without fear; a good education; a sense of achievement and pride from all those years at the BBC where I met so many people and had experiences and saw places that I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise; good health; a lovely kind husband who is still good to me even when I’m the bitch from hell; two wonderful children who have made me proud many more times than they have made me anxious or upset; the opportunity to pursue hobbies and interests; a great social life and a fabulous circle of friends.

I think it’s about being comfortable in your own skin and now I’m forced to think about it, I realise that actually I am and I have so much still to look forward to.

If my children follow my example, then what I’m looking forward to most in this decade is becoming a grandmother  I really can’t wait.  After my dad died, I knew I wouldn’t have any more children as I couldn’t bear the thought of him never knowing them.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been broody every single time I’ve held a baby in my arms.  I’m guessing the next few months will physically put a stop to that possibility so it’s down to my two to give me children I can dote on, while I’m still fit and young enough to run around after them.  I’m waiting …….

And turning fifty doesn’t mean I have to stop dreaming.  I yearn to be a good enough actor to make a proper living out of it.  I still want a really nice house.  I want to grow up into someone with elegant taste….but I fear it really is too late for that one.

Five decades of various experiences have given me a certain wisdom which has sort of appeared without me even realising. I love that people of all ages feel free to ask for advice – it feels very natural and I’m good at it.

So, this has been a very good exercise in making me feel a bit more positive about this whole business.  I’m still not having a party to celebrate the actual day but I quite fancy making a year out of it – so maybe there’ll be a party in the summer.  After all, being around for half a century is worth marking and I’ll regret it in years to come if  I don’t do something.  Whatever happens it probably, no definitely, isn’t worth getting all miserable about.

After all, age ain’t nothing but a number ! 

Farewell 2013, Thanks For The Memories

So, it’s New Year’s Eve and I guess any blog worth its salt uses today to look back over the last year.

I could write about my favourite books or films or theatre productions from this year but as this is still a relatively new blog, I thought I’d write about… me!!

It’s actually good to look back.  It keeps you grounded and I think it helps work out what the priorities are for the New Year.  And if I’m honest, 2013 has been a landmark year that will stay in the memory for a while.

The biggest event of 2013 for me was leaving the BBC after a thirty-year career there.  I never thought I would actually go because as much as I my have moaned from time to time, I loved my time there.  When the end came, it was an emotional last day followed by an absolutely fantastic leaving party a week later where I was completely overwhelmed by the warmth, affection and generosity of my wonderful colleagues.  They gave me some beautiful gifts and made the most amazing leaving film, which I still can’t stop watching some nine months on!

I like to think that March 2013 will always be remembered as the time the BBC said farewell to two clapped out, creaking old institutions.  One of course was me, the other was….Television Centre.  We had our own News farewell party at the end of 2012 when we moved to New Broadcasting House but the doors finally closed in 2013. I still feel very nostalgic for the old place as I spent most of my thirty year stint there and it was a fabulous place full of celebrities and for decades, it was the very heart of British television.  I loved it and the official farewell party, the week after mine, was a very emotional one for me.

I really don’t know where the time has gone since I left, as in my head I had planned to have another job by now but I have been having too much fun writing and acting.  It’s all I want to do.  I do love actors and writers.  They are all so creative and I have met some extremely talented new friends, some of whom have been amazingly generous in recommending me for various bits of work.  In this last year, I’ve done lots of little things that are lo-pay or no-pay but they have all made me so happy. They include:

– a couple of murder mystery dinners

– playing Mary in a new musical on the life of Christ

– various immersive theatre, street theatre and art installations all of which have involved interacting with an unsuspecting crowd

– medical and corporate role-play

And I’ve also experienced the downside of the whole business as I lost a couple of roles after thinking they were in the bag.  Note to self – never assume anything until the camera starts rolling or you’re in front of the audience!

I have worked on some great new writing projects which in turn have really got the juices flowing and have encouraged me in my own writing. I had nearly finished my novel but just in the last week, I was suddenly struck by an idea which means I need to restructure it all somewhat.  I think I need to take a few days out somewhere on my own, with no distractions, so that I can finally finish it.  Then after that, I plan to write some scripts, as I literally have hundreds of ideas in my head and I need to get them down on paper and up on stage!

2013 was quite an eventful year for my son too.  Even though he took it all in his stride, it felt like a rollercoaster for me. He started the year, in his usual lackadaisical way re-sitting some of his exams which he somehow managed to scrape through even though he spent far too much time partying and playing football.  Then, when he should have been focusing hard on his A-levels, he took time out to finish writing his third musical which he produced and directed and put on in mid-February.  I was really cross that he spent so much time on it when he should have been studying but I have to admit that it was brilliant and got excellent reviews and in spite of my frustration, I am incredibly proud of how amazingly talented he is to have written such beautiful songs and a story that had everyone in tears!

For those first few months of the year, he auditioned at all the key drama schools including RADA, LAMDA, Central, Guildhall and Rose Bruford. It was a bit of a wake-up call for him as I think he thought he would just breeze in but actually, he didn’t make it in to any.  He got some really good feedback from them all, with Central even telling him that he was very talented and easily marketable but like the others they wanted him to go off and live life a little before auditioning again.

That hit him hard and made him realise that he needed to work hard towards his exams if he was going to get a university place to study drama at Liverpool, Warwick or Manchester and so around April time, he started making a real effort.  As I was relatively free, I was also able to spend time with him helping him with the some of the topics he was struggling with.  I take credit for making him love Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” almost as much as I do.  In May he finally left school for ever, took his exams in June and then in August, we found out that miracle of miracles, he had actually got some decent grades, which meant that at the end of September, he took up his university place at Liverpool and had an amazing first term studying the subject he loves.

He has done well in his first exams and assessments, got the lead in the university musical, “Asco”, compered a charity variety show and next term, will be hosting his own show on the University Radio station.  And to top it all, that lazy boy who didn’t seem at all motivated at the start of the year was awarded a university scholarship!  Immense pride simply isn’t adequate enough to cover just how I feel about him at the moment!

Meanwhile, my clever studious daughter who has worked hard ever since she first started at nursery, lost a couple of dress sizes as she hardly ate or slept in the run up to her Law finals in her last year at Oxford.  I was very worried about her but it was all worth it as she passed with a 2:1 and her Graduation in August was one of the proudest days of my life as I watched her take part in a ceremony dating back hundreds of years.

She turned 21 in 2013 and celebrated with a party that lasted the whole weekend! I keep telling her that when her grandmother was her age, I was already a year old but neither she or her rather gorgeous boyfriend seem to be hearing me !!

Talking about her grandmother, my mother turned 70 in September and we had a bit of a do for her.  I think she enjoyed it….but it nearly killed me !!  In fact, it has put me off any kind of “do” for some time, so that even though it’s only six weeks away, I have no plans to celebrate my “special” birthday in February.  39 again, in case anyone is asking!

We’ve had some work done on the house.  The builders started at the end of October and I thought it would take a month……they are still here ! Bathroom, kitchen, shower room and garage all still to be completed.  Hopefully, they’ll be gone by the time I settle down this time next year to write about 2014.  Hopefully….

Anyway, I’m looking forward to 2014.  I’ve got all my writing and a part in a short film with an award-winning director to look forward to.  The rest is a bit of a mystery which I think, is quite exciting!  Trust you all have an exciting 2014 to look forward to as well.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! 

Christmas !

Aww, I love Christmas.  I mean, I really love it.

It has always been a special time.  As a child, it was all about the presents and I couldn’t wait to get at them first thing in the morning. And then there was the food, although we always had to wait until late in the afternoon to eat because after Church, my Dad would go along to a local hospital where the charity he worked with would deliver toys to the children there.  But when he came home, we would eat until we were stuffed and then we would play any games I’d been given as gifts.  And of course the television in the evening was always a treat, even though back then, there were only three channels to choose from…

But I think Christmas became far more important once I had my own children because seeing it through their eyes as they were growing up was simply magical and it was important to me that they really enjoyed it.  I think they must have done, because now they are in their twenties they both insist that all the little traditions that we created along the way are still maintained, even though I pretend to be cross at why on earth it’s necessary, now they are all grown up!!

In actual fact, the thought of them getting married and having Christmas Day somewhere else freaks me out slightly and I always have to put that thought to the very back of my mind or I start hyper-ventilating!

I start to think about Christmas around mid-November when I try and order some cards from my various charities but apart from that, I refuse to do anything else until December as I always think it spoils things to start Christmas too early.  I’m sure it is that sort of thinking that is responsible for me still running around on Christmas Eve, trying to get everything done!

But come 1st December, I finally cave in and start buying mince pies and stollen and I also get in the advent calendars!  This year there was a near-riot when I told my twenty and twenty-one year old that I wouldn’t be doing that as they were far too old for such nonsense and my daughter virtually begged me to pleeeeeasse get her a “Where’s Wally” calendar.  I asked her what relevance that bore to Advent and reminded her that if I ever got a calendar when I was young, it never contained chocolate and instead, had pictures of the story of the Nativity. She yawned and nodded and said that I told her that every year but she still wanted “Where’s Wally.”

Meanwhile, the boy was calling from university asking where his calendar was and when I said IF I got him one, he would get it on the 6th when we were due to visit, he was most distressed.  He called every day that first week, asking if I could maybe post one to him.  Of course, I refused.  What is it with opening a little flap and getting a piece of cheap chocolate – why is that such a pleasure?? Anyway, it was the first thing he asked for when I took him all his treats on our visit!  His flatmates looked on with a little envy as they complained bitterly that their parents hadn’t got them one and I admit to feeling very proud that I was such a kind, generous and thoughtful mum!

During those first couple of weeks in December, I like to try and get a few Christmas cards done each evening.  It’s something that I love doing, while drinking mulled wine and listening to “White Christmas” for the millionth time.  On the occasions when I have paced myself, I have had time to write a personal little note and enclose a family photo to the friends and family who are abroad or who I haven’t seen in a while….

That’s always the theory.  But the reality is that I keep putting it off and then do them all in a rush in one go, drinking far too much of that wine that it makes our names more and more illegible as they are hastily scribbled on each card so that I’m sure the recipients never have any idea who they are actually from!

And then there’s the tree!  If I am in panto, it usually goes up early in December as we’ll often have an after-show party on the first Friday and I like the place to look Christmassy for that.  Otherwise, it goes up mid December.  I’m not very good at dressing it, so husband and daughter normally do it while I shout instructions from the opposite corner of the room. like “there’s nothing on that branch” or “the fairy’s wonky”.  I think my help there is much appreciated.

All this is always done with my favourite Christmas album playing, and you may laugh but that happens to be “Christmas To Remember” with ….Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers !!  Unbelievably, it’s on a cassette tape and I have had it forever and I LOVE it!  It only gets played once a year, for the tree decorating, but I panic that one day, we won’t have a cassette player anymore (who does?!) and that it will be lost forever.  I could download it but nah….not so magical !

It was while Dolly and Kenny were singing to us, as we were decorating the tree twenty-two years ago, that I told my husband that I was pretty sure I was pregnant.  The look of wonder and surprise and delight on his face is something I will never forget.  It was all confirmed that Christmas Eve and I don’t think I have ever been able to top that particular Christmas present since then.

On Christmas Eve, I am usually up at about 6am in a bid to beat the crowds to the shops as I will usually have forgotten something and am in crazy, stressed-lady mode.  I stop by the butcher on the way back who finds our family a bit of a challenge because what we actually eat for the Big Meal is a subject for much discussion each year, that he inevitably gets drawn into.  You see, the problem is that none of us actually like turkey that much!  We are a family of lamb-lovers but all agree that Christmas Day really has to be about a bird of some sort.  Over the years, we have tried a number of different options, but never really come up with the solution.  For example, we have tried:

– a capon but it has too much white meat which is the reason we don’t really like turkey

– Cornish hen which are delicious but husband thinks these individual little birds are just too fiddly to eat elegantly

– the three in one bird, which we did a few years back.  I think it was turkey, chicken and duck and I gave the butcher my own stuffing so that he could put it all together for me.  I was really looking forward to it but in the end it was a bit dry….and bloody expensive!

– goose, but I seemed to be cleaning my oven for months aftwerwards and I don’t want to do that again, thank you

– duck, which was lovely but there wasn’t enough meat for everyone, which sent me into a slight, no, major panic.

So this year, we have gone back to turkey, which is what we inevitably do between each of these alternatives. It’s fine.  It’s traditional and we don’t hate it – we just end up fighting over who has to eat all that troublesome white meat….which is usually me!!

Oh, there’s so much more to write about Christmas but I must stop because….well, I have loads more cards to write and today is the last posting date and there are still presents to buy and I can feel my stress levels starting to rise from somewhere deep within, because once again I haven’t been organised enough to really be sure about what I’m supposed to be doing.

Mind you, there’s still a week to go…..

Did You Know

From time to time, I like to do these question things!  They are a good way of focusing the mind but most of all, it’s something to post when you can’t think of a single other thing to write about or, when you are putting off more important things……like making a start on organising Christmas !

First memory?

When I was little and my parents were out at work, I was looked after by a lovely lady who took me on when I was less than a year old. She had a little dog called Bingey and apparently we were inseparable.  He used to follow me around and there are some gorgeous black and white photos of the two of us together. I think my first memory is of falling over in the back garden as a toddler and starting to cry, and him then barking to get attention.  Oh, he was adorable.

Cat or dog person?

Because of Bingey I started off as a dog person but when I was a teenager, a very haughty ginger cat decided to adopt us. He just stalked in to the house one day and stayed.  He actually belonged to the family next door-but-one and they didn’t seem to mind.  Surprisingly my mother let him stay with us, even though she has always disliked the idea of household pets, and she became more attached to him than any of us.  I think she liked the fact that he was so rude.  (I would suggest that she saw something of herself in him but she reads this and will give me a seriously hard time if I suggest any such a thing!) Anyway, he came and went as he pleased, gave affection if he so chose and seemed to get pissed off and impatient very quickly and for no real reason. He was a complete pain in the arse….and I loved him to bits. He stopped coming so much once I got married, and then completely disappeared once the children arrived and started bothering him.  He was far too superior to have to deal with them!

Best friend?

It really upsets me but I don’t have one. I just can’t seem to allow myself to get that close to any one person and so I surround myself with lots of people, some of whom I genuinely adore. I suppose my husband is my closest friend and the only one I really talk to, in any depth.  But when he gets on my nerves….nope, there’s no one I would choose to tell

Best trait?

I think people are drawn to me because I am a good listener and I genuinely care about the people I like. I think I give good advice too – probably because I’m a really old bird now who has picked up a bit of wisdom along the way!  It may just be that I have a loud laugh though, which people seem to love to hear when they have made a pathetic joke!!

Worst trait?

Probably that loud laugh! And a seriously bad temper – which hardly any one outside of my poor family has witnessed

Religious faith?

I have a deep Christian faith but I find that whenever it comes up, people often want to question me or tell me I’m wrong and I’m not clever enough to argue the point.  So annoyingly, I don’t talk about it much, apart from in Church where I have often lead the services.  I should though, as a message of love and forgiveness really can’t be such a bad thing to follow, even though I struggle with it every day!

Beauty routine?

I’m a bit lax really. I don’t cleanse, tone and moisturise as often as I should and certainly not with expensive products.  It’s easier just to wash my face with soap and water and then slap on loads of gloopy face cream. I don’t wear any make up during the day at the moment but I put lots on when I go out and I like that it makes me feel dramatically different!

What clothing makes you feel good?

Anything that makes me think I look good …..and I love it if I find something old that suddenly fits again!!  Though that hasn’t happened in a long time!

Signature look?

Nowadays, it’s usually just jeans or leggings with some shapeless old top that’s nice and comfy.

Cameron, Clegg or Milliband?

Give me strength! They all cause my blood pressure to rise pretending to be so different when none of them actually care.  Why isn’t there any other choice??

Biggest regret?

There are loads but I learnt long ago that there is no point dwelling on them. The most successful people seem to be the ones who turn around their mistakes and refuse to wish their life was any different.

Last got drunk?

No, no – I don’t do that sort of thing anymore…….!!

High maintenance?

Uhmm…… have you not read this blog?? Of course I am – BIG TIME!!!

Backpacker or designer suitcases?

Well, I can’t be bothered with designer anything but I’m definitely not a backpacker – if it hasn’t got ensuite facilities and fluffy towels, I’m really not interested!!

City or country living?

I couldn’t live anywhere where there are no street lights!

Phone or text?

I have a bit of a phone phobia at home.  At work, it was never a problem but I realise now that I try to avoid talking into a mobile at all costs. I think it’s because I seem unable to do that quietly, and still shout ….in that Dom Joly fashion!  Much prefer texting

Won the lottery what would you do?

I fantasise about this all the time. Pay off debts, make sure my children have what they need, give up looking for a job and find a worthy charity who could benefit from my experience and some of my new found fortune!

I don’t play though so I’m not quite sure how that will happen …….

 

Today’s The Day!

At last!  Today is the 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who and I for one have been completely drawn in by all the hype, and I can’t wait.

It will start with that fabulously recognisable theme tune which gives me a little thrill of nostalgia taking me back over decades, every time I hear it. I think it’s the woo-oo-ooo bits that do it!

I’m really quite sensible and not one of those superfans who dresses up and knows everything about Doctor Who.  It has a very special place in my heart though, as I grew up watching it and it has been around for as long as I can remember.  It defines British television and is most definitely a national treasure.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, it’s all very hard to describe.  Basically, Doctor Who is a Time Lord who is well over a thousand years old.  He comes from Gallifrey, has two hearts and he is best described as a weird, scientific explorer of different times and galaxies with a tremendous sense of justice.  After half a century of time travel, we still don’t know his real name but his victories are always total and when I was little, that made him the perfect father-like protector.

So far, there have been 11 Doctors.  I have no memory of watching William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton but credit has to be given for how differently they both approached the role, leading the way for all the actors that followed to play the Doctor their way.

I started watching when I was about seven or eight and Jon Pertwee was the Doctor.  That gives him a special place in my own personal ranking of the eleven.  He was a proper Dandy with his frilly shirts, posh voice and general flamboyance.  I saw him as a rather lovely eccentric granddad. In those days, each episode ended with a cliff hanger and I often had to wait until the following week in a state of anxiety as to whether he would be all right!

And then Tom Baker took over.  He was the one I grew up with and loved. Such a complete weirdo with that voice, the wide eyes, that slightly childlike but mesmerising nature, the jelly babies and that long, long scarf.  He was brilliant.

By the time Peter Davison took over, I was a teenager/young woman and Saturday evenings were more about going out and finding my own hero rather than watching TV, so I missed quite a lot of episodes …. but I do remember thinking he was really quite cute, in a jolly nice chap way.

I had no time for Colin Baker and his ridiculous technicolour coat and so I stopped watching and then gave up on it totally when Sylvester McCoy took over.  I guess others felt the same as the BBC pulled the plug in 1989.

In 1996, I remember being really excited about the prospect of Paul McGann playing the Doctor in a one-off film but I suspect I was probably a little disappointed, as I have no memory of it or how I felt about it.

But in 2005, the Doctor’s return really set my world alight.  Christopher Eccleston was so cool and rather sexy and I loved him straight away.  Rather disturbingly, my daughter who was entering her teens felt the same! He was such a great Doctor.  He gave the series back the huge success it deserved and he thoroughly owned the role.

However almost as soon as he started, he left.  I was distraught and I didn’t think that I could forgive David Tennant for well, not being Christopher Eccleston.  However, that lasted about an episode!  Halfway through that first series with him, he was my favourite, my absolute favourite, and not just because I fancy him rotten but because it was clear that he genuinely loved being the Doctor.  He was gorgeous, cool, cheeky and as far as I’m concerned, he was the Doctor.  At the end of the Tennant reign, there were goodbyes to all the characters that had been key in his episodes – Martha, Mickey, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane, Donna and finally Rose.  It was absolutely heartbreaking and I sobbed for hours.

I have to admit that it’s only now as Matt Smith is about to end his reign as the Doctor, that I finally appreciate how good he has been.  A cross between a boffin, action man and alien and probably the best physical actor of the lot.  His problem, as far as I was concerned, was that he wasn’t David Tennant.  But I realise now that I didn’t dislike him as much as I thought.  Although I moaned about him, I watched every one of his episodes.  I gave him a hard time.  I was wrong.

Matt Smith, I apologise.  You are up there as one of the best.

Of course, it’s not just the Doctor that has made this programme brilliant.  Where the companion has been great, Doctor Who has been at its most magical.  Sarah Jane Smith arrived soon after I started watching and it may have been her that kept me hooked with her guttural “Doct-err” every time she was in danger.  Even at my very young age back then, I think I had a bit of a girly crush on her!  In the modern era, she returned in one of my favourite episodes, sparking off much jealousy from Rose.   Sarah Jane was brilliant.  RIP Elisabeth Sladen.

I should have liked Leela as she had my mother’s name but she was too overtly sexual for my young mind.  In fact, lots of the companions wore hardly any clothes after that which was very annoying and quite unnecessary!

With the brand new Doctor Who, came Rose.  I was so sceptical when I heard Billy Piper was to be in the new series but she was brilliant from the start.  I adored her.  Every episode was brilliant.  And the relationship between the Doctor and Rose was so beautiful.  I’ll never forget their heart-wrenching goodbye when he disappeared before actually telling her he loved her.

But just as beautiful, was the Doctor’s relationship with Donna Noble.  I never thought in a million years that casting Catherine Tate could work and at the start it really did just seem as one of her sketch show characters had pitched up on the show.  But soon, I LOVED her.  Really loved her.  And when it ended with the Doctor having to erase her memory so she didn’t even know who he was, it was even more upsetting than the ending with Rose.

Amy Pond was far too knowing and I never really liked her.  Was she in love with Rory or the Doctor?   Until that final episode, I never thought she was worthy of Rory’s love but I may just have been jealous of how incredibly beautiful she is!

That the Doctor constantly regenerates is a neat trick that has kept it going all these years.  The unveiling of the new Doctor is always kept under wraps until the big reveal which is now a separate major TV event in itself.

And so we await Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. I know he will be brilliant and may possibly give us more of a traditional doctor than the romantic figure we have become used to…. but who knows?

And tonight, we find out what the fabulous John Hurt’s involvement is.

I really can’t wait!

It won’t be a letdown.  I just know it will be amazing because it is written by Steven Moffat who is, quite frankly, a genius.

Oh my, only a few hours to go now.  Woo-oo-ooo…..