Saturday 28 April 2007


My young man and I recently spent a manic seven days in Ireland catching up with old friends and making new ones. Ireland is a strange, schizophrenic and beautiful place, peopled by a strange, schizophrenic and beautiful population.

To give you a flavour of the trip our first hotel room had no wardrobe, cupboards or drawers. The worst of minimalist married to the maddest of trend mania. What weird person thought “I know, let’s be innovative and provide nowhere to store the weary travellers’ clothes”? At first we were horrified but then we became seduced by the charm of the people and could forgive them anything, even a minimalist hotel room.

We stayed in Letterkenny, County Donegal that I now nominate the party capital of the world. We expected it to be a small village. Wrong!! It is a buzzing, thriving town with massive inward investment. Big business likes party animals, and that they surely are that.

As a retirement project I am researching our family histories. The Irish side of both our families is troublesome to uncover because of the sketchy preservation of records in Ireland, so while we were there we decided to visit Belfast to meet up with cousins who my young man had either never met before or had not seen for 40 odd year.

At short notice they gathered together and fed us a feast of family history. We had a great gathering, which turned into, by our standards, a pretty big and glorious piss up. We didn’t get to bed until the back of 0100, which, for us, is like sleep deprivation. It seemed pretty normal to them!

We parted with much sadness and promises to keep in touch and maybe even visit, a promise that I know will be kept. We already plan to take a short side trip to see them again when we go to Enniskillen in a few weeks time.

Thursday 19 April 2007


RECENTLY, I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH AAADD - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests itself:

I decided to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I looked over at my car and decided my car needs washing. As I started toward the garage, I noticed that there is mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mailbox earlier. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys down on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full. So I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first. But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only 1 check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find a can of Coke that I had been drinking. I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over.

I see that the coke is getting warm, and I decide I should put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye-- they need to be watered.I set the Coke down on the counter, and I discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning.

Then I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly I spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I will be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers.I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spilled on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill, then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do. At the end of the day:----the car isn't washed, ----the bills aren't paid,----there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter, ----the flowers don't have enough water, ----there is still only 1 check in my checkbook, ----I can't find the remote,----I can't find my glasses, ----and I don't remember what in the word I did with the car keys!

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled, because I know I was busy all day long, and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help forit, but first I'll check my e-mail.Do me a favour, will you? Forward this message to everyone you know, because I don't remember to whom it has been sent.

Don't laugh-- if this isn't you yet, your day is coming!!!Growing older is mandatory.Growing up is optional.Laughing at yourself is therapeutic.

P.S. I just walked outside and SOMEONE LEFT THE WATER RUNNING IN THE DRIVEWAY!!!! !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!

Wednesday 18 April 2007


News from our racing driver following the Oulton Park meeting last weekend:-

Well what started off as a very promising race day ended in complete disaster.

As I mentioned last week the car was ready and I was happy with it during qualifying, I had no one around me that was quick enough to follow (the trick is to let them drag you around so you learn the racing lines and braking points) so I made my own way around and tried my best – I recorded a time of 2.08m, over 2 seconds quicker than anyone in my class which I was obviously very happy about.

It was a mega hot day and I was afraid the tyres might start to lose their grip towards the end of the race so I adjusted my tyre pressures accordingly. The hot weather meant there was little cool air to flow through the radiator so I would have to keep an eye on my water temperature
gauge as well.

When the race got underway I started well and held position into the first corner, I soon caught the cars in front and started picking my way through them – I had started in 10th place overall at the beginning and by the 4th lap I was up to 4th overall!

The car was going really well and I had pulled some pretty outrageous manoeuvres to get to 4th place on much faster cars when I slightly over revved the engine whilst changing down the gears for a slower chicane. As I accelerated out of the corner I changed from 3rd to 4th gear and the gearbox got stuck in 4th so when I went to change into 5th on the long straight up to the fast Druids Corner it wouldn’t go in and the engine got over revved again causing the con rod bolts to snap clean in half. The con rod exited through the top of the engine leaving a piston sized hole in the engine block.

The next round is in only 2 weeks and I need to completely rebuild the engine block

Wayne our hearts went out to you. Good luck with the re-build and we will be routing for you again at your next meeting in a couple of weeks at Rockingham. As that old Latin saying goes Illegitimi Non Carborundum – in other words Wayne don’t let the bastards grind you down!

Tuesday 17 April 2007


Now that I’m “of a certain age” I find that people speak to me like I’m an imbecile. A couple of months ago I got into a discussion about the weather with the “Practice Nurse” at my doctor’s surgery. She said that during the weather forecast they had mentioned the S word. I said “pardon”. She said “the S word”. Again I said “pardon”. She then lip-synched something that I still couldn’t understand. For a third time I said “pardon”.

By this time I’m getting very embarrassed at being so stupid. She lip-synched again and I still couldn’t get it. I finally guessed, “storm”? to which she responded, “NO, SNOW”. Now my question is, why didn’t the silly bitch say snow in the first place? To quote that great broadcaster Terry Wogan “is it me”?

She may see me as a daft old bugger but let’s not forget that I’m the babe that went “up West” and watched Easy Rider and Alice’s Restaurant back to back. And I was there when they ripped up the seats in the Odean Cinema, Leicester Square during a showing of Rock around the Clock and I tell you I’ve still got plenty of “rip it up” left in me yet.
We are, after all, the generation that discovered Rock ‘n Roll, Flower Power, Spirituality (as opposed to religion), free love, and LSD (admittedly not one of our finest hours).

Monday 16 April 2007


A friend of my grandson reads the blog and emailed me:-

“I previously thought you were so sweet and innocent – how wrong was I?! You're still very sweet, but innocent? No way! ha ha. I’m going to speak to Vince to find out when he is next going up, I’d love to come and visit you all!

I must say the fine lady with the ribbon in her hair was quite pleasing to the eye! Enjoy your day, I dread to think what you’ll get up to – I’m sure I’ll find out all about it tomorrow. Take care.”

Me? Sweet and innocent? No way José. Just goes to show, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can fool most of the people, most of the time!

Saturday 14 April 2007


This week we said farewell to an old friend. She had suffered long and stoically and, following a lengthy illness, has gone to her maker. But to the last she did it with style and flair.

Our dear friend, her husband, is the richest man in the county with a reputation for being somewhat, now how can I put this delicately, parsimonious? So when he announced that he refused to pay the scandalous cost of transportation and was going to take his wife to the crematorium in the back of his estate car we were, as you can imagine, slightly alarmed.

My husband, a very conventional Roman Catholic, was aghast and tried to reason with him. It wasn’t fitting, she deserved to go with more dignity etc. etc. Our friend was unconcerned and, paying no heed to convention, stuck to his guns.

I told my husband that there was no need to worry and I was quite right. The service was dignified and simple, and our friend’s eulogy was both touching and insightful. It was obvious from what he said that he had devoted his life to his wife but now had been her time to go. It was very moving.

He later explained that he didn’t want her to take her last journey in the company of strangers. Having looked after her during the 25 years of illness this was to be his final goodbye. It had given him the opportunity to have one last talk to her. And that, I believe, was the real reason behind his eccentric decision. That and the money!

We don’t do things like other generations, never have done, never will. Rock on.

Thursday 12 April 2007


As a company we sponsor a young racing driver who is doing rather well this year. Good luck in your next race at Oulton Park next weekend Wayne, we are all routing for you.

And this is a photograph of the young man accepting a trophy for the best newcomer which was presented to him at Silverstone. Note the slightly reserved smile, he hadn’t long found out that he had been excluded from his first win as described below!

For the racing aficionados amongst you this is a record of his last race at Silverstone on 24th March this year.

Hi to everyone at Infotel, I hope you’re all ok!

Well Saturday was interesting to say the least, I went through as many emotions as possible (I think).

I qualified 2nd in class D and 10th overall (from 37 cars) on the Silverstone International layout which I have never driven before so I was quite happy with that.

In the race I had the lead of class D by the time I had got to the first corner, and then the top 3 of us traded places for 2 laps before I got my head down and drove away from them.

The car was really good, the new engine is amazing and the Toyo tyres were fantastic – this really boosted my confidence during the race and I pushed even harder, I soon caught 2 cars that were running in classes B and C (both modified, special gearbox, slick tyres etc) and we had a real good tussle with me passing them both through Priory on one lap but the class C car (Alfa 155 3.0 V6) was just too fast on the straights and although I could outbrake him on every slow corner when we got onto the straights he would just blast past me – it was hard work for 25 minutes and especially in the final few laps when we started lapping the slower cars (some of them were in my class!).

And that’s how the race ended, I won my class by over 8 seconds, set fastest lap by 1.1 seconds and was only 0.5 second off the lap record – all in all a pretty good days work, I was delighted to take my first win but the feeling didn’t last too long as I was called up to see the Clerk of the Course (the boss of the circuit).

He proceeded to tell me that a marshal had observed me passing under yellow flags through a fast corner very early in the race when I was still running with my own class cars – problem was that I was already making a move on the outside so his car blocked my view of the marshal’s post so I never had a chance of seeing the flags, this was compounded by the other driver making an official protest and hence I was excluded from the result and given 4 penalty points on my race license.

I’m obviously disappointed, especially as I though it a little unnecessary for the other driver to complain – if I had seen the flags I would have let him back through – I was over a second a lap faster than him so he wasn’t a threat and I had nothing to gain by it, he ended up 20 seconds behind me at the finish and 4th in class so it was a little academic.

I can take some positives out of this though, I had the measure of my entire class (14 cars in this race) and I proved I could overtake by running with the bigger cars and passing them – on the unofficial results I was actually classified 5th overall and was still on the lead lap at the end of the race, everyone behind me had been lapped, that is quite an achievement in itself!

Oulton Park is in 3 weeks and I’m really looking forward to it now, I fully intend to go and win my class – I proved I can do it and fully intend to do it for every race I participate in this year, my car is set up really well and the engine is just awesome.
I have attached some small pictures of the race.
Hope to speak soon.

ps, hope you like the graphics – I went for a different material this time with no backing so each square and piece of text goes on individually – I think the car looks brilliant!

Many thanks
Wayne Ashford
Matrix Trainer

One final comment from me (Mr Grumpy will testify to the fact that I like the last word). A nicer, more charming and charamatic young man you could not wish to meet. Once again Wayne, good luck at Oulton Park this weekend.

Wednesday 11 April 2007


I briefly went to the same school as Bill Wyman (albeit that he went to the boys and I went to the girls) and I often wondered if our paths ever crossed. Was he one of the boys that used to stroll in the park at Crystal Palace on balmy summer evenings eyeing up us girls while we giggled and flirted?. “Do you come here often?” “Only in the mating season” giggle, giggle. Ah, sweet innocence. We’ve come a long way since then Billy boy.

He was doing a “book signing” thing in our local town one evening last summer. A very important person to visit such an ‘umble little place and to think that I had this maybe acquainceship with him. A big night.

When we arrived he was standing outside the bookshop having a quick drag on a fag. A shrivelled little old man, but nevertheless a “celebrity”. I walked across the road, shook his hand and said “Bill, how nice for you to meet me”. Subtle play on word eh! Too subtle for Bill though. He looked confused, ignored me and continued a conversation he was having with one of his hangers on. Drat, he didn’t remember me. So what - this rock chick doesn’t want to be associated with an old grey geyser like that anyway. Sorry Bill, you blew it.

Tuesday 10 April 2007


Now that I’m older I am, thankfully, spared the embarrassments of my youth. Example - as a naïve 15 year old my suspender belt elastic broke as I stepped from a busy commuter train at London Bridge Station in the rush hour. The weight of my stockings and the act of walking slowly dragged the suspender belt down from my waist, over my hips and down my thighs, bringing with it my stockings and, of course, my knickers. Knickers in those days were not the frilly bits of lace that they are now. No, they were Bridget Jones type “big knickers”. Nothing glamorous in that.

The horror of it is impossible to describe. In the middle of a jostling, rushing crowd of sophisticated “City folk” was this poor little girl trying to balance on one leg, pull off a stocking, the other leg, pull off a second stocking whilst attempting to palm the offending knickers and suspender belt without anyone seeing. My nightmare was everyone else’s hilarious story.

Would I be embarrassed now? You bet, but I like to think that I would handle it better, throw my knickers in the air and cheer. At least it would get me the attention I crave for.

Monday 9 April 2007


An email from another one of my crazy friends. No wonder they called us the “happening generation!”.

“Well Ann, having caught up with your blog, I've decided that the next time I want to run away I'll take you with me. Then we can sit on a desert island somewhere and discuss exactly how we want to run the world when we return to it - if ever!

In the meantime I've attached a photo of my role model - I may be slightly prettier than her but I've got the attitude (and the pink ribbon for my hair), I'm saving up for the cigar.

Love, Sandy”

From now on whenever I wake up in the morning and feel I can’t be bothered I’ll think of this dear lady who took the trouble to find a pink ribbon for her hair. Bravo.

Sunday 8 April 2007


The children that bed hop in the night are here. Not too bad last night though - they didn’t land in our bed until 0545 this morning. In fact pretty good. Dare I say this? Are they getting slightly better as they get older?

I did my usual, bailed out and went into the spare bed. Half and hour later my dear husband comes staggering past me into the bathroom. “Why are you using this bathroom, why don’t you use your own?” “I thought I might wake them up and I would rather wake you”. Charming.

We then progress to an early start in the day - Easter Sunday. East Sunday equals chocolate Easter eggs. Chocolate Easter eggs equal mess. Mess equals me battling against two unruly children and an even more unruly granddad. You get my drift?

In the middle of all this chaos I hear “Where are you” “What does granddad want?” “Nothing, he just wants you there”. Ain’t that the truth.

Scratch the surface of any human being and inside there is a raging animal. They scratched and out came the animal, ready to attack the kids in general and granddad in particular. The eldest child remonstrates with me “You can’t do that in this house” “What? ” “Talk back to granddad”. No and I can’t do it in the office or in the privacy of my own bedroom either.

A summons by royal command arrives courtesy of great granddaughter number two. “Granddad wants you to cut his hair” She then wanders in to observe the fascinating process. “Don’t come in here with that milk while people are cutting hair”. People, that’s me he’s talking about! This is my station in life. When I complain old grumpy claims that he has actually elevated me to the status of human being. Oh well, no bother then, see if he likes it when this “people” decides not to cook dinner! We’re in for a bumpy ride today.

Saturday 7 April 2007


This is definitely the very last on the rollerblading subject. This morning I asked “Should I buy myself a pair of rollerblades?” “No” “Why?” “You’ll fall over and hurt yourself and then who’ll look after me”. Fair enough.

I think that life is very dull at the moment. This morning there was a news item on an extreme sport called travelling to Australia overland on a bus. I thought “I can do that”. I could go in the winter to avoid all the nasty germs and live on the edge for 12 weeks with other assorted nutters. Sounds fun.

The most extreme thing that I have done this year is get rat-assed on wine, capture my great granddaughter. take her into the garden and teach her naughty words like rat-assed, butt-head, bum-face and the like. Oh we had such a delightfully hysterical evening in the pleasant sunshine.

That’s the trouble with the youth of today, they don’t have roll models like me any more. Yes, we are definitely a dying breed. We still laugh about it today, my great grandaughter and I – “get drunk again nanny and teach me naughty words”. I have to back her into a corner and threaten to duff her up to keep her mouth shut.

Thursday 5 April 2007

PRESENTING (drum roll) IN THE RED CORNER (drum roll)

This week we launched our umpteenth upgrade to the website This has been by far the most difficult, traumatic, exciting and awesome upgrade yet.

Because the IT guys have worked so long and hard and are still very, very traumatised I thought it might be a good idea to introduce and publicly humiliate, sorry old habits die hard, I mean publicly praise them.

First we have the dynamic duo Luke and Mark. They live together, but not, they assure me, in the biblical sense. Two single guys who share a bachelor pad. Luke is web designer and Mark web programmer and as the bulk of the work fell on their shoulders they are greatly relieved to have the upgrade under their belts so that they can now go off and enjoy their real passion, Glastonbury. Well done lads, and thanks.

Luke came to us straight from Grammar school. We have always given him free reign to be wild and mad, beaten him up a bit, and then somehow got what we really want out of him. Now that he is all grown up and a pretty big guy full of self-confidence we have had to stop the beatings! Drat!!

Mark did the University route and then came to us. He loves telling anyone and everyone that he can capture about nutrition and green stuff. To combat this you have to either yell at him to “ shut the fuck up” or walk away. He’s quite easy to manage really.

Then we have our two illegal immigrants (only kidding). Ed is a rangy American, ex US Navy and a wiz with systems and machines. At the moment he has a technical problem that is challenging but no-one gives a toss. He hates us. Robert is Polish and has recently had his second brain removed resulting in him wearing very odd headgear. Robert is also technical support and unfortunately his English is getting better. He now understands what we mean when we call him a mad foreign dog.

Huggy Bear Rob is database programmer. He has a cool easy charm. Like “how are you Rob” “I’ll tell you when you tell me what you want” or “Oh it’s you again! You’re a pain in the backside” “yes, Rob the pain in the backside that signs your wage cheque”. Despite his tetchiness I have to say that he is one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet and everyone loves him. And he is HUGELY, HUGELY talented.

And last, but not least, (more drum rolls) Ashley. What can I say about Ashley that doesn’t sound cringy. He has been with us, off and on, man and boy, since the beginning. He is our web meister, the genius who pretends to be a mere mortal, our inspiration and perspiration, through triumph and disaster. On a good day we venerate, worship and adore him. On a bad day hanging, drawing and quartering would be too good for him. We fall at your feet oh glorious one.

In closing I would like to say that we have a good HR policy within the IT Department at Infotel. They hate us, we bully and humiliate them. Well, it works for us!

Monday 2 April 2007


After reading the blog yesterday my husband moaned “why don’t you ever mention my great achievements?” This point was also raised by our good friend “DogLover". As DogLover is, for his sins, a man I just naturally assumed that it was a man thing.

Well, great achievements? Umm – I guess his greatest achievement was recognising my unique and charismatic charm when he first set eyes on me in that pub in Bracknell. He then groomed me for success by breaking my spirit, putting me through hell and rebuilding me in HIS image. Clever man.

So .. great achievements? He made me believe:-

That two people with only half a brain could launch a UK hotel information service in the middle of a recession.

That we could compete with the “big boys” (many of who do not exist now).

That, via the world wide web, we could transform a fledgling company into an international agency.

That winning the battle was only the start and we would then have to learn to rule.

That if Mrs Thatcher could work with only three hours sleep a night so could I - I could go on.

Great achievement today? Umm – it’s still early in the day but already he has concocted the most amazing gunge for breakfast. “Taste it” (and because I have been brainwashed I do – uck) “You’ll never guess what is in it”. This part ain’t rocket science, "anything and everything edible in the house?" “No be serious, guess” “OK, apple” grins and nods, “banana” grins and nods, “pineapple” grins and nods, “pear” frowns “no, what else”. I must confess that by now I’m beginning to struggle what else do we have in the pigging house? “I don’t know, enlighten me” “orange, what else”. Oh god, what have I ever done to upset you? “Go on, you’ll never guess” “what else” “guess” look if you don’t shut up and tell me I will have to seriously injure you”, in triumph he announces “Oatabix!”. Now I must admit that did surprise me. With that he announced that he was going out on his roller blades.

Sunday 1 April 2007


What would you do if you were totally uncoordinated and clumsy, tripped over your own feet and thought that left was right? I wonder, would you think “I know, I’ll take up roller blading”?! Guess what, my husband is that clumsy person and he has taken up roller blading. Which reminds me of an old saying. What is it now? Oh, I remember – there’s no fool like an old fool.

I am a nervous wreck after spending several anxious evenings running from window to window secretly watching him as he clings to the wall, wobbles, staggers, stumbles, nearly falls, and sliding one foot in front of the other miraculously manages to kept upright.

He said that all he needed to succeed was to watch someone skating so that he can see how it should be done. Our son-in-law suggested that he go to the roller blading disco at the sports centre on a Saturday evening, but thankfully he decided against that.

One of our young colleagues offered to give him lessons which, I must admit, did help and his confidence and, with it, speed increased. That’s when he started falling over. This, he assures me is temporary and he will soon have it licked. Let’s hope so before he either he starts breaking bones or gets a good slapping from me.

Yes, there is little doubt in my mind that as my husband “matures” he is more and more prone to madness.