Trolly dolly tour – The land of Oz

Getting there – (part 2 )

One of the good things about being a trolly dolly is that once a year I get to travel anywhere in the world for peanuts. I work hard for that ticket. Much as I love all of you lovely passengers, you can be a little testing at times, false teeth down the toilet, fist fights in the aisle, temper tantrums, breakdowns and endless requests for more alcohol and that’s just me on a good day!…but once I’ve finished doing all of that, it’s my pleasure to serve you….honest! In return I get my club class tickets…yipeee!

So I finally feel a little more settled when we get into our flatbed seats on the beautiful brand new A380 , a huge double- deckered beast with every mod con you can think of. One of my gorgeous colleagues gives me a glass of champagne and a cheeky wink and I know this will be a good journey. Jo is grinning like a Cheshire cat and by the time were over Paris she’s armed with two double brandies and feeling fine in her brand new lounge pyjamas. She has her films sorted and her fluffy socks on and is as happy as pig in the proverbial pile of poop. It’s not till were somewhere over Malaysia, many, many hours later, that her hangover kicks in. Still, she’s happy enough, if a little time-fucked and we start to feel the disorientation that comes with jet –lag. What time is it? What time is it back home? What time is it in Sydney? What time is it on mars? We have no clue, neither do our brains….but let’s just solve the problem by drinking more champagne…hurrah, problem solved!

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As the plane touches down she gets tearful. I can understand. She hasn’t seen Gingy for two years. She explains this to Morag the passenger next to her. Morag hasn’t seen her daughter either and she too begins to cry. The baby in front begins to cry. The trolly dolly, who’s been on her feet serving us champagne with good grace and cheerful smile, begins to cry. It’s a snot fest as the wheels screech on the tarmac. We are here, Sydney…we made it!!! Now, what time is it?

I’ll tell you what time it is…it’s 6am! Early morning and freezing. So much for the Sydney sunshine! But the glow from us all is blinding, and not just because of Gingy’s bright red head hair…now complete with bright red backpacker’s beard! He looks like a Pirate! But a very, very happy Pirate as he hugs us both with such ferocity I fear I may have cracked a rib.

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We are tearful, and buzzing and happy and tearful and buzzing and cold. It’s bloody cold outside.Did I mention that? I unzip my case and grab my coat as Jo makes the call to the hire car company…no answer? Hmmmmm must be a problem with the phone, foreign countries tend to play havoc with phones! So Gingy tries on his …no answer. We have champagne jet -lagged brain fuzz and can’t quite puzzle through problems so we stomp back inside and hassle someone who has no affiliation with our hire car company whatsoever. They’re kind and patient and obviously completely unable to help us.

We get caffeine and try again. Success, the wicked witch of the West answers… and tells us she has no paperwork and we will have to wait till 8am for the office to open, then promptly slams down the phone!…

‘What time is it I ask?’

‘6am’ says Gingy.

There are many, many expletives. And then we sit there like stunned deer for two hours drinking coffee to combat the champagne hangover now buddying up with blinding tiredness…just for fun.

08:01am . Back on the phone.

‘ Where’s our car?’ I snarl

‘ummmmm?’ comes the reply then, ‘ we will ring you back.’

WTF? Another half hour.. ‘shuttle bus is on its way.. Stand at point x which is half a mile away and in the coldest spot in the world, we will pick you up.’

One hour later I am smurf-blue with cold. There are many, many more expletives and now, one taxi ride later, we finally get to the car hire office. Yet more time passes, more expletives, some apologies and one slightly dodgy looking rustbucket appears. We pile in…get 40 yards down the road and it packs up. We pile out, back to office, more expletives, one very large swanky SUV appears and we all pile in. what time is it? No one knows.

And off we finally go, onwards to Terrigal, about an hour’s drive from Sydney…I don’t know if its Friday or Saturday, I am cold tired and ravenous. I knew coming to Australia was a bad fucking idea!

 

 

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Trolly Dolly Tour – the land of Oz.Day 1

A day by day account of a trolly dollys trip to Oz!

 

‘Please, can we go? Please?’ That’s my sister with her best whiny face on begging me to go to Australia.

‘Aw, God no. No. it’s too far. I can’t afford it. It’s not exactly Paris. No.’ That’s me point blank refusing to go.

So why do I find myself en route to Australia?

I have yet to work this out, but en route I am, with one very merry sister who is about to see her son for the first time in over two years. She owes me……big time! I’m not a reluctant traveller, I’m a trolly dolly . Cabin crew. Dragon with a wagon. Tart with a cart. Whatever you wanna call me. But the point is, on my holidays, the last thing I wanna do is get on a fecking plane! Let alone, two planes…..let alone for 24 bloody hours!

I go back to the original question. Why do I find myself en route to Australia? I put it down to bullying….and love …for both my sister, and for my lovely nephew (gingy, so named for his copper curls…let’s just say we’re not a family best known for our originality), who I also really want to see and who quite selfishly went on a backpacking holiday…and forgot to come home! ..but mostly, it’s simply sibling bullying. She knows I can get the tickets for a song…she knows I’m the only one who will put up with her snoring for two weeks…and she also knows that once I stop whinging I will love the whole experience.

So we are off!

You can follow this travel blog as we go,

I hope you enjoy it!

 

Getting there (part 1) – Day 1

Jo is like a jumping bean!

Its 7am and our flight isn’t until 8pm tonight. She’s fully packed, breakfasted and ready to go as I wander downstairs, bleary-eyed and slightly heavy- hearted.

My youngest is chomping through her Weetabix, transfixed on Cbeebies with no grasp on quite how long it’s going to be before she sees mummy again. I go over and hug her and she pushes me away smearing Weetabix across my forehead.

‘Gerroff mummy, I’m watching telly.’ Clearly not traumatised by my forthcoming trip then! The eldest spends the next hour clinging to me like Velcro though, and I feel justified in my tears when I finally wave them off to school….. But then the excitement kicks in and I relent.

Jo has asked for the last hour ‘Can we go? , Can we go?’ like a kid on a promise to the circus. We have to drive to the airport a two hour trip and she wants to experience Terminal five Do the shops. ALLLLL the shops she says. So off we go, five hours earlier than we need to and I’m not overly impressed. As with Planes, airports are my least favourite place to spend time in.

Light spots of rain dust the windscreen and she chats on about the trip, the kangaroos, seeing gingy, the koalas, seeing gingy, Sydney city tours, seeing gingy, Byron bay, seeing gingy. You get the picture. She’s a little animated! I’ve seen less twitchy cokeheads!

I need caffeine. And a shot of misery to settle her. So I pull into the services and make my way through the greyness of the motorway travellers for a pee and large bucket of tea to keep me going. I steer her away from the coffee for fear she will enter the stratosphere if she gets any more animated, then we trudge back through the now heavy drizzle and get back in the car.

Not ten minutes later we hit a jam and slow…then we slow a bit more…then finally come to a grinding halt.

‘Aw no’ she moans. ‘S’okay’ I say, ‘it’ll clear in a minute .It’s not like we’re gonna be late. We’ve got six hours!’

One junction. Four hours. That bucket of tea pressing hard on my bladder. One fully traumatised sister employing breathing exercises to stop the panic attack that’s threatening to suffocate both of us, a tempest of epic proportions raging outside and an overturned lorry that’s covering Both sides of the motorway. My lip chewed into mincemeat as I fight the urge to screech ‘I knew going to Oz was a bad fucking idea!’

Despite the cabbie from the carpark driving like a tortoise on Tramadol, the raging storm, the traffic jam, the Heathrow queues, the gritted teeth and nails chewed to down to the quick…we finally made it through security prepared to run like Olympians to the gate.

Then up there, flashing red, ‘Delayed’. Two hours…. And I take a deep breath and head to the bar for the first of many stiff drinks. Our journey to Oz has begun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dad, my Hero

‘Alright, bonny lass.’

It’s the same greeting my Dad has given me since I could toddle into a room and toothlessly grin at him. And it will always be the same greeting. Because no matter how old we both grow, I will always be his little girl.

‘Cute’, some might say.

‘Nauseating,’ say others.

I can’t help it. My Dad is my hero and I am his princess and this has never changed, no matter what the shit-fan of life has thrown at us.

Like most daughters on Father’s Day I will be presenting him with a crap card, (farting gorilla) and an even crappier gift (golf book/Tobelerone…the small toblerone not the massive one that’ll cost him a trip to the dentist for a new set of gnashers). And I will do this despite the fact that, to be quite honest, there is no gift or card on Earth that can quite convey what this slight, balding, wry, old man means to this grumpy, stressed- out, middle-aged mummy.

Thing is my dad is the Carlsberg of Dads. He’s not bigger than your Dad. He’s not an athlete or a professor or an astronaut or a Nobel Prize winner, but he is everything to me.

He’s the guy who lifted me on his shoulders for salty walks along the promenade. He’s the one who taught me the names of all the Capital cities of the world. The person who took me fishing on the rocks and told me not to cry when I skinned my knees, cos crying was for babies. He’s the man who warned me , to no avail, about boys , the one who told me to wear something more appropriate, to be home on time, to not cheek my mother, to get that stuff off my face.

He’s the man who paid the tuition then didn’t get mad when I dropped out, the one who never wavered when I asked, yet again, for the money I needed because Id left yet another job. He’s the one who said it would be okay when I got pregnant to a man I barely knew and He’s the man who held me for hours and hours after Cancer took my mother and I wanted it to take me too.

Now, he’s a Grandad to my two giggling girls and he’s the one who smiles at me and says ‘look how it all turned out….I knew you’d be okay bonny lass’.

And if my Dad says that, then I believe him. Because he’s the man who is steadfast and true and will never ever let me down. So, on this Father’s Day, Dad, I hope you know how much you mean to me and that you are my hero…. And I promise to try and be good from now on….honest!

 

 

 

 

15 Seconds of Fame

15 Seconds of Fame

Some things have happened, good things! At last, a tiny scrap of success, but it still feels like I’ve bought the winning lotto ticket and been presented with a bumper crate of champagne. But let me go back a bit….

I’m thirteen, wearing my best flowered jeans, stomping round the Metro Centre in my new pods trying to look as cool as person can do with a bad perm and iced-champink lipstick. My friend, (leggy blonde beauty, no acne, coral lipstick and electric blue mascara) is stuffing a McDonald’s burger into her, as we peer into the window of Tammy girl, ooh-ing and Ahh-ing over clothes we can’t afford.

This guy approaches and we scowl at him in teenage welcome.

‘Hey Girls, do you wanna be in an advert?’ He smiles.

At that point we should have heard our mother’s voices screeching in our heads to move away from danger, but instead we grinned like idiots and said ‘Yeah, alright!’

We spent the afternoon filming. What a treat! Seventeen goes on the new roller coaster, smile, scream look like you’re having fun. Fifteen goes on the pirate ship, smile scream look like you’re having fun, try not to peuk. 450 goes on the Ferris wheel, smile, scream, peuk…(I was never much cop with heights!). …then we waited a few weeks until suddenly there we were…in all our glory! Only on the Goddamn telly!! The advert ran for almost two years and every time it was on I swelled with pride! My friends joyful, beautiful face lighting up the screen, luring folk far and wide to come and enjoy the pleasures of the Metro Centre and me…..for about 15 seconds….half my ponytail and one blue pod…. Oh the thrill of seeing bits of me on the telly!

Many years later, I felt it was time I showed the world a bit more of me. Will Young had just won popstars and there was a new show in town. The X Factor. This show was surely designed with me in mind. Normal people who could sing, people just waiting to be discovered, people just like me! I practiced and practiced ignoring the neighbours scowls and the gentle discouragement from friends and family…’You know telly’s a bit different from Karaoke at The Crown after a litre of Vodka.’ I wouldn’t be told. I donned my best mini skirt, got my hair done and off I went to the Big smoke and joined the queue. It rained. It rained some more and the wind joined in, just for fun. But I gritted my teeth and held fast. Until finally there I was….sodden, bedraggled, hoarse with fear and frostbite but the cameras rolled on and after about 15 seconds, I rolled along the conveyor belt of wannabees with a polite thanks but no thanks, back out into the freezing London summer.

If Andy Warhol was right and we do all get 15 minutes of fame, at this point I’m only operating on about 1.6% of my potential! ( This figure may be wrong… two goes with a calculator and several phone calls to family members while we tried to recall schoolday fractions and no real actual Carol Voderman type acumen, means it’s a general approximation!) Still, the point is, there’s still time!

Recently I was visiting my Dad oop North. We were eating the best fish and chips in the world (only to be found on the North-east coast!) and watching The Chase, me nodding sagely while he answered all the questions.

‘You should go on a quiz show, Pops,’ I said.

‘Ah’ll not be making a fool’ o’ meself on the telly’ he replied, sternly.

I gulped.

So this probably wasn’t the time to tell him I’d applied to go on a very popular quiz show and had already been for the audition? We had five minutes to tell an interesting true story. I told the story of how one of my passengers at work dropped her handbag on landing and her vibrator shot out, rolling down the length of the aircraft, finally coming to a halt outside the cockpit door. Much mirth ensued, but perhaps it wasn’t quite appropriate for Saturday night prime time telly?

I digress, whilst munching my chips an email pinged through. A message from Brum radio! I read that they liked one of my stories and read on waiting for the inevitable rejection part. It didn’t come. I read it again and a salt and vinegar grin spread across my face.

‘Dad! Guess what…they’re gonna put my story on the radio!’ I screeched, jumping up and showering the carpet with chips.

Welshbear smiled from the chair opposite and Dad raised his eyebrows with delight….. but The Chase was on…so that was about all I was gonna get from them!

This week my story ‘Vesta’ was aired. It sounded wonderful and I was grateful to the actress who brought her to life and to Phillip Ellis the producer who thought my work was good enough. It’s a tiny stepping stone in my writer’s journey, but it meant the world to me…and I couldn’t be happier!

As for the TV audition….let’s just say Phillips wasn’t the only email I received! I’m ready for my other thirteen and a half minutes of fame…watch this space!

 

 

 

Holiday Hunger Games

I’m pretty sure the person who invented school holidays is the same person who thought up the Hunger Games. Seriously, not only have my kids fought each other to the death, but then when you shout at them and try and separate them, they turn on you and form an alliance in order to finish you off!

I’m unlucky enough to live in a village that borders two different counties, with two different bodies that regulate the school holidays. So, this means two separate term times which in turn means my kids, over Easter, either separately, or together, had a total of 25 days off school. 25 fecking days! What kind of torture is that?

We started off well, the youngest and I enjoyed a few days of animated ass- kicking pandas, zoo animals (the goat was a favourite? Not a flicker of excitement at the tigers or snow leopards) and a jolly time sticking glue- ing and pasting bits of shite onto bog roll to create an Elf village. All of this while the rain lashed down and the wind howled and the chances of the sun coming out were zero to nil.

We had a few days up north bracing against the Northern rain and the Northern howling wind but at least we had two Grandads an Aunty and a Nanna to shove them at when the going got tough. All the while though, the suffocating feeling of imprisonment loomed overhead. No you can’t go out without a pink Puffa jacket velcroed to your leg, no you can’t sit down at any given point, ever,….. no you certainly cannot write…arghhhhh!

Then it was party time…for them! Welshbear retreated back to the comfort of work and I was left winging it. For days…endless days…endless, endless days. Now if like us, you’re not flush with cash, you’ve got to somehow fill those days without financially ruining yourself. Unlike Facebook world, where everyone seemed to be enjoying weeks in Portugal, twee cottages in France, Floridian adventures, I was stuck on home turf, with two bored kids, while outside (I may have mentioned this), the rain lashed down and the wind howled.

They liked each other for approximately half a day…then the games began. It started off with light bickering and a few choice words from me. Then in between creating a mess of hiroshimatic proportions, the real fighting began. A push here, a shove there, more choice words, separate rooms, chores were dished out to try and combat the mess, but countless ‘in a minutes’ later, I wanted to cry. …ok I did cry…just a little bit. But only after the eldest had stabbed the youngest through the leg with a pen and youngest had poked the eldest in the eye with a sword/toilet brush.

I retreated to the bathroom for some mummy time. But even that didn’t work. When you have to have a shite in three parts because you need to stop your kids from killing each other every few minutes you know you’ve hit rock bottom in the world of parenting. Particularly when for the third part of the turd your actually accompanied by a four year old , literally sitting on the pot with you, in order to ‘stay safe’ as she put it!

I complained to Welshbear. I even rallied a little when at the weekend he offered to look after them while I studied/had a peaceful bathroom experience/planned ways of disposing of them without evidence.

Two hours, that’s all I was gone for. Two hours. I flounced downstairs and was hit by what can only be described as a war-zone. Every toy ever sold was strewn across the floor, the bathroom was covered in crayon, by covered I mean covered, in the way several graffiti artists would cover it after downing a litre of vodka and smoking a potato sack full of green stuff. The kitchen had exploded and the kids…well they were happily ensconced in the youngest’s bedroom, smothered in the remnants of 17 Easter eggs whilst watching inappropriate youtube on the ipad.

And Welshbear? Well he had deployed the man button. The button that allows all men to form a shield of oblivion all around him. Mess becomes invisible, as do the children, the only thing visible to the male naked eye, is the golf he was happily engrossed in on the telly. I tapped him on the shoulder and he looked up with a soppy smile.

‘Alright love, did you get your work done?’ he asked

I gestured around, mouth flapping like a cod fish while he looked perplexed.

‘What?’ he asked.

Only then, 18 days in, did I go to the fridge and succumb to the wine. Gallons of the fecking stuff. But there’s nothing worse, even the depths of hell can’t compare, to a Monday morning hangover, two feral kids and a house that looks like a bombsite. I took a deep breath and ploughed on. Only one more week to go. It took guts, it took determination, it took strength and will power but finally, finally we made it to the end. The final day of the holidays.

I opened my eyes and I kid you not, glorious fecking sunshine. My two kids snuggled next to me for an early morning cuddle, beaming at me with cherubic faces full of love.

‘Mummy, I’m gonna miss you so much when I go back to school,’ piped up my youngest.

‘Yeah, I wish we could be off forever,’ agreed the eldest.

I smiled benevolently at my little darlings.

‘Me too girls, me too.’ I replied…..heading straight to hell for lying.

 

 

 

Dumb blonde

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One of my favourite ever sayings comes from one of the smartest dumb blondes I wish I knew….Dolly Parton….’ Honey I aint dumb and I aint blonde’. I love her. I love all her fake, sparkling brilliance. She’s the tin foil to my magpie and ever since I was a little girl I’ve been spinning across the carpet to every homespun hillbilly ditty she ever wrote. She was the reason my mother was able to plough through the ironing pile every Sunday afternoon, while I deftly lifted one vinyl after another onto the record player to transport us both to the Tennessee mountains.

I had no idea what a Tennessee mountain was. No idea who this bitch Jolene was either, but I knew if I ever met her I would smack her chops till her teeth rattled for hurting my Dolly so much. I sang with a hearty deep south twang while my…

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Dumb blonde

One of my favourite ever sayings comes from one of the smartest dumb blondes I wish I knew….Dolly Parton….’ Honey I aint dumb and I aint blonde’. I love her. I love all her fake, sparkling brilliance. She’s the tin foil to my magpie and ever since I was a little girl I’ve been spinning across the carpet to every homespun hillbilly ditty she ever wrote. She was the reason my mother was able to plough through the ironing pile every Sunday afternoon, while I deftly lifted one vinyl after another onto the record player to transport us both to the Tennessee mountains.

I had no idea what a Tennessee mountain was. No idea who this bitch Jolene was either, but I knew if I ever met her I would smack her chops till her teeth rattled for hurting my Dolly so much. I sang with a hearty deep south twang while my mum nodded righteously along, as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a kid from the North East of England to be sharing the sentiments of an American country singer. Thing was it didn’t matter that I didn’t know, because there was one thing I did know…Dolly was singing straight me. I believed every word she sang,  about her childhood, her family, her lovers, her heartbreak and her joy. The words were saturated with emotion, because she sang from right between those humongous bazookas…where sat a heart of gold.

As you know, I recently made the mad decision to join the twitter community. Hurrah! I thought! And I joined in with gusto, then I slowed a little and got befuddled a little and eventually a few days ago I came to a grinding halt. Exhausted with my new font of knowledge I had to have a little lie down in a darkened room. Welshbear brought tea, but to no avail. He even blew my diet by offering me a lovely choccie biscuit …and although that was seen off faster than a finger  in a piranha tank, I still couldn’t lift my mood.

Thing was, by scrolling through this buffet of tweety trivia one very loud conclusion thumped me on the head. Doh! I know nothing. I know nothing about politics or fashion or music ..the cold finger of fear inserted itself into my spinal column and shoved its way up….fuck a duck! I knew nothing about writing. There they were, lovely authors with lovely books…promoting and marketing and speaking about all manner of stuff I knew nothing about! I could never do any of that stuff. These people are writing about such clever, important things. Oh shit thought I….I am officially a dumb fucking blonde!

Being a Capricorn (Saturn’s child) I am allowed to sulk. The stars say so….so I did. And I decided that nothing I ever wrote would be interesting or clever enough for others to read…. and I defaulted to my music collection…where I always go in times of trouble to wallow peacefully without actually having to have a tantrum…which these days is far too tiring.

There she was my lovely Dolly. Waiting to sooth me with her high- pitched warbling of tales of woe. And while I lay on my bed, with the laundry basket full of heavy towels shoved against the door so the kids couldn’t  get in, a little text pinged onto my phone…

‘ I’ve just been to the marina, cant believe how much its changed’.

It was an old friend of mine, talking about our childhood and the times we spent on my Father’s boat and suddenly, a whole novel spilled out onto the duvet … and that was when the penny dropped. Don’t try and be clever when you write….It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world are doing …..be like Dolly…write what you know and write from the heart…and trust yourself because you aint dumb and you aint blonde.