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March 04, 2006

I am the one and only

Meeting someone for the first time is always a delicate issue for me. Many is the time that I have begun getting to know someone, letting them know a bit more about me and then I unguardedly release the one piece of information that I shouldn't.

The effect is instant and damning, my character is called into question and I am denounced as spoilt, reclusive, self-obsessed and socially inept. Now some (or all) of that may be true, but I'd like the opportunity to ruin my reputation based on my actions rather than on preconceived ideas.

So what is it about me that is so deeply unforgivable and socially unacceptable? I am… an only child.

Yes, that is the shameful secret I carry. Since I can remember people have told me how spoilt and selfish I must be. I must admit, there are some advantages. I have a very high boredom threshold – many is the time that I have whiled away long hours with a lollystick and some pipe cleaners. My imagination was stimulated by the creation of several imaginary friends whose complex social lives and confidences became almost as real as my school friends. I was also absorbed into the inner sanctum of adult dinner parties, gradually getting sleepier and silently slipping under the table to have a nap with the dog.

No, it's not all bad being the only one, but I was informed today by my helpful housemate that for when the agonies of social exclusion gets too much, there is help at hand! There is a website dedicated to helping only children with social issues, loneliness or who just want to share their experiences. A breath of fresh air for when the burdens of unsiblinghood become too much.

February 03, 2006

Sad tidings

Follow-up to A new arrival from My name is Layla, I'm not a showgirl

I know that it is fairly unlikely that anyone cares about my Ken Hom 14" Sensai wok with 10mm base, metal utensil proof non-stick coating, life time guarantee, cool handle and of course lid (mustn't forget the lid) but I thought an update was needed.

True to their word Amazon delivered it to our door. Sadly, on finding that The Lid Which Must Not Be Forgotten did not fit, it was soon discovered that the wok itself was heavily dented.

The re-packed box is now sitting rather forlornly on the floor waiting for collection next week. No stir-fries for me until after reading week then.

Life is cruel.

February 01, 2006

A new arrival

It's due any time this week! It wasn't really planned as such. To be honest it was a moment of weakness, you know how it is. One thing led to another and well, here we are. There were admittedly some testing times when I wondered if I'd been hasty and stupid. Was I really prepared for this sort of commitment? Thinking about it now, I don't regret a thing. The moment I saw it on the screen I fell in love, the thought that it was mine, a part of my life for ever and ever.

Now all I can do is wait. The waiting is the hardest part. I find myself thinking about it at the strangest times, imagining how it will look, what a huge change it will make to my life. Today on the bus I realised that it was one thing that my life had been missing. I keep feeling little flurries of joy in my stomach when I imagine all the special times we'll have together.

And it only cost £24.97.

Quite a bargain for a 14" Ken Hom wok with a cool handle and 10mm thick base with a special metal utensil proof non-stick coating and life time guarantee. And a lid. Mustn't forget about the lid. Ah, internet shopping, my life would be truly bleak without you.

January 25, 2006

I have just learnt to love a hyacinth

I have not had the most scintillating of days. I have been in bed with a stomach bug and unfortunately discovered that you can only play the sympathy card so many times before it loses its potency.

Having asked for hot water with just a dash of lemon juice and demanded that my pillows be replumped one too many times I have pretty much been left to my own devices.

In this state of thumb-twiddling boredom (obviously I'm far too ill to get any work done…) I looked properly at the hyacinth on my desk that my mother very kindly bought me for Christmas. It's really pretty and smells incredible, particularly when I first come into the room. I'm not usually very good with plants so I am very proud that this one isn't brown and crackly yet.

It's thriving so much in fact that it needed supporting with a stick (found it in Jephson Gardens, who needs a garden centre?). Apparently pink hyacinths are associated with playfulness. Now you know.

Right. That's about all I can possibly say about hyacinths. It looks like yet another opportunity to alleviate boredom has been exhausted. Spider solitaire here I come…

December 31, 2005

Rebel without much of a cause

As Christmas has passed uneventfully by for another year, I have accumulated a nice little pile of those bags of silica gel that come in jackets and boxes of things. I have a strange relationship with silica gel. I don’t know if it’s the rebel streak in me, but there is something about the peremptory way they print DO NOT EAT in no nonsense ‘don’t question my authority’ style letters that just makes me want to disobey.

The first time I did, I was actually quite scared, I slipped the little packet into my pocket and took it upstairs where I could be alone to discover what horrors occurred should I actually consume this strange substance. I ripped open the packet and was quite surprised. It clearly wasn’t a gel for a start. Why call it gel if it isn’t one? There was clearly something that the powers that be weren’t telling.

I tentatively licked at them and soon found that the little balls were rather firmly attached to my tongue. I swallowed a couple of them (with difficulty), threw the others away then waited to see what would happen.

Not very much. Except they are possibly addictive because ten years on, I am still incapable of doing my duty as an obedient citizen and throwing them away. It still gives me a little thrill to stand up to the dictatorial system that forbids me to eat something without telling me why. Here’s to eating things that I am told not to! Next up, raw potato, yew berries, mercury…

November 18, 2005

It's so cold it smells like Kendal Mint Cake

'Ee bah gum ber ahm cowd' as the great song goes*.

As winter seems to have descended in full force and we are supposedly going to experience the coldest season for 50 years, I thought I would pass on some of my survival tips for the cold but miserly student.

How to Stay Warm Without Wasting
Money on the Frivolous Luxury of Central Heating

1. Find a corner
2. Round up all the things you are likely to need for a good few hours, e.g. books, kendal mint cake, tv remote, large glass of brandy (purely for warmth of course).
3. Get a hot waterbottle/ wheatbag or a hot brick if you are really miserly.
4. Find two double duvets (try stealing one from a housemate – they will be so cold they won't move very fast to stop you.)
5. Sit on the first duvet. Pull the top over your head like a hood.
6. Pull the bottom end of the second duvet underneath you and the top up to your neck.
7. Tug the edges of the second duvet up to your thighs.
8. Draw the top corners of the first duvet under your chin
9. Put the hot water bottle or equivalent under your feet.
10. Realise you really really need the loo.

So there you go. Ten easy steps to make your own den. I am the Ray Mears of surviving in the great indoors. Good luck for a toasty warm cocoon and a healthier bank balance.

*for full lyrics and a cd of me singing to the accompaniment of the paper and comb, please send a SAE to me.

October 08, 2005

Novelty Cakes 'R' Us

Writing about Guess what I did this weekend? from Fluff And Nonsense

Not content with one culinary masterpiece in a week, another exquisitely detailed creation is born.

In honour of my father's half century, something special was needed. This is his pride and joy…

and this is its small but perfectly formed cakey equivalent…

Note the attention to detail, the indicators and headlights, the mud splashes on the wheels. Perfection in confectionary form.

Talents such as ours should not be hidden in suburban obscurity. It is our duty to society to make our mark on the great world of business and provide a range of cunningly crafted sweetmeats for the discerning consumer.

Suggestions as to what we should call this new but growing concern would be gratefully received.

August 24, 2005

PGCE panic


Here was I fully intending not to write any entries over the Summer (not least to annoy Lizzie who persists in encouraging me) but I have been driven to it. Put briefly, I'm panicking.

Having spent two weeks in a primary school at the start of the holiday I have confirmed once and for all that there is no better way to spend my working life than as a teacher. I can't remember ever wanting something as much as I want to do this. Unfortunately this means that it is really really important to me that I get accepted onto a PGCE for September 2006, preferably at Warwick.

I have been madly trawling the internet for tips on making my application as perfect as a perfect thing, but maybe I'm not looking in the right places. To be honest, I haven't even found exactly what's on the flipping thing which makes it somewhat harder to pre-plan.

So anyway, I thought I'd take a break and have a bit of a moan. At best, perhaps anyone with any knowledge of the application process will give me some tips on the alchemy of turning random facts about me into a golden personal statement, and at worst, I have at least vented some of my frustrations.

Ah blogs, where would we be without them?

June 16, 2005

They can't close Raffles!

I can't believe Warwick Hospitality are closing Raffles! I really can't understand why they would want to. They describe it as 'A relaxed coffee bar overlooking the Japanese garden, offering a range of sandwiches and snacks with hot and cold drinks.' which doesn't begin to show how comfortable and relaxed it is. Most of the time it is packed with people who use it as somewhere to meet, a convenient place to get a quick and badly needed coffee before seminars or most importantly, somewhere that sells decent hot drinks and food that doesn't have the feel of a motorway service cafe like 'Café Library'.

I had a quick look on the at the Warwick Hospitality website.

They say: "we provide a wide selection of places to eat and drink on campus".

I say: Closing both Raffles and Westwood restaurant cuts down on that selection pretty dramatically.

They say: "We are in the 'people' business and both our staff and our customers are very important to us."

I say: It doesn't seem like they have put the customers' interests first in this situation.

They say: "We have 14 outlets (restaurants, cafes & bars) across campus, each with their own unique identity."

I say: If Raffles has such a unique identity, how can they suggest that going to Café Library is an acceptable alternative?

They say: "Our aim is to build a long-term relationship with you. We want to anticipate your needs and exceed your expectations."

I say: My needs don't appear to have been anticipated and my expectations have certainly not been exceeded.

Now ok, I realise that Raffles is just a coffee bar, maybe it shouldn't get to me this much, but frankly, it's been a huge part of my experience at university so far and I don't relish the thought of spending third year without it.


June 12, 2005

A Tale of Woe and Costcutter

I am decidedly put out. A couple of days ago I bought a 2 litre bottle of milk in good faith from Costcutter. I joyfully carried it home, eagerly imagining the tea, coffee and bowls of cereal it would make. It was a ray of hope in these dark days of exams.

This morning as I tucked into a quick snack of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes I found to my horror that they didn't taste quite as 'delicious and nutritious' as usual. In fact they tasted rather like mackerel. I like mackerel mind you, but not in cereal.

Sure enough I discovered that the milk did not smell as sweet as milk should. It hadn't yet reached lumpy, sick inducing levels, but it certainly wasn't right. It has been kept in our small but efficient fridge and the sell by date is June 14th. My fellow housemates and I have been cheated out of a litre of milk.

It's not fair. Damn you Costcutter!

June 02, 2005

scary movie (not that one)

This week I conquered a fear which I have harboured since childhood. Many Christmasses ago I was staying with my Grandparents in Sheffield. The crackers all pulled, the turkey demolished, we sat down to watch some festive 80's telly. How can I describe the terror that I experienced on that night, forcing myself to stay and watch because I didn't want to go to bed alone. All my life I have carried the memory of that fateful evening and the horror that is Labyrinth.

For the uninitiated, this film stars David Bowie and an awfully large cast of puppets, that was about all I remembered until this week. On the evening of my birthday on Sunday, I received a shiny new DVD of the scary scary film. It wasn't without a degree of foreboding that I put the DVD into a machine about the size that calculators were the first time I watched the film.

Two hours later I had been amazed by the magical devilry of Jim Henson and the freakish eye makeup of Mr Bowie. There were some scary moments but I only needed to hide behind a pillow once or twice. As the credits came up to the sound of eighties music I felt liberated. I had lain the ghosts of the past to rest. And I still maintain that that film should not be rated 'U'.

May 14, 2005

Money chair

I looked out of the living room window today in time to see the Burberry clad neighbours erecting a large trampoline. Considering the gardens along our road are about the size of a single bed, this was no small feat. Soon they had it completed and were merrily jumping around, swearing happily to themselves. For no justifiable reason, I became jealous. I wanted to experience the joy of bouncing too. Completely without the aid of alcohol to numb the shame, I began to bounce very tentatively on a chair. Imagine my surprise when I heard a faint jingling. Reaching my hand into the foul depths of the arm chair my fingertips touched a coin. Twenty English pence no less!

I continued to explore the recesses of what can only be known as that rarest of things – a money chair. After many long minutes looking like a vet at a particularly tricky calving, I had accumulated my reward. Sixty-two pence, a tic tac, a newspaper clipping from 2003 (about the merits of men with long hair), a prescription tablet of unknown medical benefit and a lacerated hand.

I ask you, who needs a fancy trampoline when you have a seventies armchair?

May 09, 2005

Floor 6

Yesterday, I was very virtuous and spent a couple of hours sitting in the library. I must admit, it wasn't the most productive of days. I began to get a pounding headache and my mouth felt like I'd been eating silica gel (which I have, but that's another story). The temperature was almost unbearable. I was starting to think that I had some sort of interesting fever which I could complain about to my friends (see previous entry) until someone opened a window and cool air gushed in.

Putting a rather thrilling book on Euripides aside, I began to think. Why was the library so unbearably hot? Was it necessary for the books to be kept warm? Suddenly I had it. It all fitted into place. my thoughts turned to last Saturday, sitting down in comfort for 45 minutes of escapism with Dr Who. Except clearly, this episode wasn't designed as escapism, it was a warning – a prophecy!

For those who were unfortunate enough to miss the episode, Dr Who, Rose, and that annoying lad visited a satellite populated by journalists. The lower floors were all swelteringly hot. It turned out that on floor 500, there lived the editor in chief, a big wobbly creature attached to the ceiling. This creature generated lots of heat which was vented away from it onto the lower floors so that it would be cool enough to survive.

YOU SEE! There must be another floor to the library, home to a creepy, gooey chief librarian, complete with huge scary teeth! All we need now is Christopher Eccleston to come and save us (or maybe David Tennant – I'm not fussy).

Don't believe me? Well, don't say I didn't warn you.

April 26, 2005

Eyelid myokymia

This is getting very irritating. My thumb and eyelid keep twitching involuntarily.

I must admit, if there is something wrong with me, I'm likely to inform anyone around. Constantly. I don't think I'm cut out for suffering in silence. My theory is that if you feel bad, you might as well get the pleasure of complaining about it.

Twitching eyes and thumbs don't sound too interesting though. In true hypochondiac style, I will consult my family health encyclopaedia…

Right, that's better. Apparently these are not just twitches, oh no. They have names. Proper medical clever sounding names. It seems I am a sufferer of eyelid myokymia and muscle fasciculation in my thumb. It happens as a result of stress and tiredness and it goes away naturally so there's nothing to be done.

Except complain to my friends of course.

April 07, 2005

Layla is mobile

I am now the proud owner of a provisional driving licence…


April 03, 2005

To do: revise the green cross code

Oh dear. I've finally done it. After years of saying 'I'll get around to it' before swiftly changing the topic, I have at last posted my application for a provisional licence. eep.

I am more than just a teensy bit scared about this. Having paid the princely sum of £38, I feel duty bound to give it my best shot and actually have at least one lesson. I really should learn to drive. The vague, misty and distinctly threatening future is drawing ever closer, and hopefully a little car should be a valuable ally.

I must admit, I'm not the most road conscious of people. I have had a fair few near misses when crossing streets, mainly through being engrossed in a conversation. It doesn't help that when I panic I tend to shut down, meaning that I stop doing whatever I was doing. Not the best attitude when driving a potentially lethal machine at 60 miles an hour.

Not knowing which side is left and which is right is a bit of a problem too. I think I'd feel a little embarrassed making my thumb and pointy finger into a little 'L' when the instructor told me to turn left.

That's a point… instructors! Everyone I speak to has a horror story about theirs. There are the angry frustrated ones who make you cry, the laid back ones who say everything is fine as you mistakenly turn onto a motorway, the purvy ones who are… well, purvy, and the crazy psycho axe-murderers.

OK, maybe I haven't heard anyone talk about the axe-murderers, but it could happen.

I can certainly see the attraction of the open road. Everyone seems to have at least given it a try. Maybe it won't be so bad, but just in case, to pre-empt any bad feeling from fellow drivers who I may (hopefully metaphorically) run in to on the road… I'm so sorry.

March 29, 2005


The first time I remember it happening on a regular basis was when I was nine. I'd just moved schools and shyly tried to fit in with the other children in the playground. I managed to pluck up the courage to introduce myself to a small group of my peers, childishly lisping 'Hello, I'm new' and then the fatal words 'my name is Layla'.

Now, I knew that there was a song called Layla, I even knew it was written by Eric Clapton (my parents had played it often enough), but what I didn't expect was an out of tune chorus of small children singing 'Diddle-diddle-diddle-der' at me, pretty much non stop for my final two years at the school. Well, maybe not quite 'Diddle-diddle-diddle-der', but that's the general way it goes. How else do you type it?

And in the playground you may think it would stop, slowly dying away along with Take That and pogs. You'd think so wouldn't you? But no. Now I don't wish to sound bitter, but being named after a song is a curse I tell you, a curse! Try having a rational conversation with someone just knowing that they are restraining the urge to sing the part of a guitar at you.

So there, if you know or ever meet a person with such a name, just think before you sing at them. It may seem witty and original to you, but it's not. Trust me on this. It's not.

March 28, 2005

My (nearly) tragic Easter

This weekend I have been greatly disturbed, shocked and not a little disappointed. Having been for a delightful holiday in Cornwall there was no food in the house to speak of except four tins of tuna and unnamed frozen lumps in foodbags. Leaving the lumps in the freezer for more financially pressing times, I journeyed out to Tesco with my mother. It was Easter Saturday. We jauntily threw bread, eggs and milk into our trolley in preparation for the next few days when all shops are closed to allow staff to gorge themselves on chocolate shaped bunnies (surely, the very heart of the Easter message). Without a care we pressed on through the aisles, little knowing what awaited us…

A little background detail. I am (don't judge me too harshly) an only child. As my parents' one and only little darling, I was plied with all forms of chocolate at Easter time. Obviously eggs, but also bunnies, chicks, and many other completely unrelated cute animals all lined up for my delectation. After a brief time of soul searching, I learned to ignore the pitiful gaze of those cute little creatures and became heartless, nibbling and biting, deaf to their pleas for mercy. I would even leave the head for last. I was without doubt the most well practised and widely feared destroyer of novelty chocolate in the west of England.

Ten years on, you can understand my distress when I rounded the corner of the fifth aisle and note a terrible absense. No Easter eggs. All gone (well except a kitkat one which are frankly rather vile and shouldn't be allowed to besmirch the good name of chocolate). What had happened? Usually there is a glut of the things and they end up getting sold a week later for 27p with a free hat thrown in.

Easter dawned and it was not without a certain degree of heaviness that I rose. I'm twenty years old, but there was a part of me which wanted to stamp my foot and cry. No Easter eggs on Easter day, it was a travesty! What was the point of having Easter if it doesn't come laden with Cadbury's? I trudged downstairs, trying to maintain a jolly facade, when I saw it on the kitchen table. My heart leapt! An Easter egg! Nothing special, a good old Roses Easter egg. Struggling not to weep with joy I inwardly blessed my Grandmother for remembering me in my time of need.

So my friends, The moral is, buy 'em quick, you never know when they'll sell out. Oh, and anyone who had one of those Cadbury's ones with chocolates inside an egg, inside (the genius of it all) another egg, can you let me know what they were like? The sheer brilliance of the idea gave me hope for the future of humanity.

March 08, 2005

Due to popular demand

My goodness this is addictive! I have tried to be restrained and not write anything else tonight, but after a few more glasses of that brandy I mentioned, I'm ready to write again. You lucky, lucky people.

So, Lizzie wanted me to tell more about the fox in Robin Hood. I'm slightly ashamed to reveal all, but I have resolved to be painfully honest in this lovely blog. So…

In 1973, Disney created yet another animated film. It took the old story of Robin Hood and magically made all of the characters into animals. Genius. But it gets better! Robin Hood himself is a handsome fox, dressed in Lincoln green, a jaunty feather in his cap and the bushiest most luxuriant tail you have ever seen. What three year old child could resist such charms? Now I don't want you to think that it was purely physical attraction – far from it. I admit, the tunic drew me in, but what captivated my heart was his deep, rich voice and gentle nature. There was more than a slight pang of sorrow when he married Maid Marian (also a fox – Disney didn't go in for inter-species relationships). Well, I never gave up on my first crush, I still watch the film with the merest glimmer of a tear knowing that such love can never be.

Well, there you are. My soul is bared, if there are any others who have felt the way I feel, do let me know. By the way, if you haven't seen it, you really must watch the film, although I never understand why there is a cockney rabbit in Sherwood forest.

March 07, 2005


Follow-up to here goes… from My name is Layla, I'm not a showgirl

WOW! It worked! Yay, I am a veritable computer whizz!