Goodbye my lover

24 February, 2013

My tears and anxiety over leaving the old house didn’t last as long as I’d expected.  Surprisingly, I was over the horrendous loss of home and hearth a mere 24 hours later.  The first house I viewed was great so within ten days we’d moved on, moved in and pretty much unpacked (except for all the stuff we pretended didn’t exist).

The new house happened to be almost exactly the same as the old one, except for a few small differences.  Fantastic I thought, we’ll learn to adapt to the changes, but this could be brilliant.  And adapt we have.  Central heating, an upstairs bathroom – which is heated, a brand new kitchen, tidy low-maintenance garden, double glazing, wooden kitchen floor and beautifully painted, yes I’m coping with the changes.  Also, we’re in Witney now instead of being an inconvenient £15 taxi ride home after a night out.  Ok, we’ll miss getting cut off by snow and flood water through the year.  We’ll miss those AA call-outs when I’d forgot to put petrol in the car before driving home.  When I’d have to pretend there was some “unknown” problem with my car.  Ok, maybe the breakdown guys pretty much always found me out, but they were very nice about it.  The thing with the AA is, if you just act really dumb they totally believe you have an IQ of about 20 and work around you.  One time I was taking care of my friend’s car and all I had to do was move it from one driveway to another before she came back from holiday.  So the fated evening came when I went to move the car and predictably, it wouldn’t start.  She was in the AA so I had to pretend I was her when I called them out.  So the breakdown guy arrives, checks the engine and announces to my utter amazement that my car has an immobilizer – situated on the dashboard.  What could I say but, “Really, has it?”  So the guy just stares at me and says, “What’s the code for it? You need to punch the code in and then your car will start”.  So, obviously, like any normal car owner with an immobilizer I replied, “Really, will it?”   Now at this point, I think that a normal person might have a teensy weensy intuitive suspicion that I had possibly not driven my car much/ever.  But no, the AA man didn’t bat an eyelid when I explained that my er, husband, always er, starts the car for me if I’m going anywhere and that I’d have to, er, call him and ask him for the immobilizer code in order to drive my er, own car off my er, own driveway.  Nope, Mr AA though it was completely normal thing to happen – I suspect to a woman.  The RAC, on the other hand, are not quite so un-judgemental, understanding or helpful.  They chucked me out of the RAC for what?  Locking my keys in the car five times in the first month.  Unreasonable or what?

The day before I’d left the old house I’d got an unexpected call from “Fearsome Reenie”, my landlord’s right-hand woman.  Now, Reenie has evicted tenants at Xmas with newborn babies, so I was rightfully a bit scared to find her on my phone. What’s coming now, I thought.  Reenie said “Joe wants to come and see you, to say goodbye, is that ok?”  I could hear Joe barking in the background – he doesn’t do phones (and no, he’s not a dog, ok?).  “I’d love Joe to come and see me” I said with heartfelt enthusiasm, Reenie laughed.  Y’see, Joe was my secret love, you didn’t know about him, in fact, I don’t think anyone knows about me and Joe (ok possibly Reenie).  He arrived in my life when I moved into the house and despite grumbling and moaning every time I broke the shower, taps, stair rail, light fittings, cupboard doors, kitchen drawers etc, I was his love and he was mine.  He’d sit in my kitchen drinking coffee and shooting the breeze with me about the state of the world (according to the Sun) for an hour or two, before looking at any task he was going to undertake.  Then he’d go off to get parts and come back the next day and have another hour or two of coffee with me before he got started.  And many a day he’d have a coffee with me before he finished at 3pm.  And, in the course of ten years of damage that we inflicted on that house, Joe and I built ourselves quite a friendship.  Sure, there was a lot of scorn and deprecating humour on his part (nice), but beyond that Joe and I came to a fine understanding of the world – one we shared.  Now on paper there wasn’t much about us that was a match.  Bad matches between me and Joe include:

  1. He was married – to Fearsome Reenie (and still is).
  2. He had four children all of which are my generation.
  3. He is interested in the news – whereas, I visit the Daily Mail online (but only to look at the plastic surgery gone-wrong photos).
  4. I break stuff; he fixes stuff.
priscilla presley after plastic surgery OMG WTF Did You Do to Your Face?!: Celebrity Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong

Btw, my fav bad plastic surgery remains Priscilla Presley (this photo is of her, not Joe).

And here’s some things you should know about Joe.

  1. Joe is very honest and has no time for BS.  We shared this quality (I like to think).  We pretty much agreed on the general state of play of the world (er, it’s full of BS).
  2. He had a great sense of humour (well, I assumed he was joking when he said those things about me).
  3. Every year he gave Reenie the same birthday card, when it came down off the mantle piece he’d put it away for the next year.  After 40 years he noticed it was getting a bit worn, so he got her a new one as a surprise (a couple of years ago).
  4. Joe went abroad once and didn’t like it, so he didn’t bother with “abroad” ever again.
  5. I didn’t think Joe could read (the Sun doesn’t count), but I found out he reads historical novels for pleasure, which I have to say was quite a shock.
  6. His youngest son died in a car crash at 17.  He said they just cried for months; but eventually he found himself laughing about all the wild things his wild child had gotten up to while he’d lived life to the full.
  7. Joe fixed things, not people, but he always gave great parenting advice.
  8. If you crossed Joe, he’d never forgive you.  He’d speak to you, but he wouldn’t forget it.

So, Joe came over for a last chat round my kitchen table, I interrupted my rubbish attempt at packing-up my rubbish and had coffee with him instead.  I have to say, I’ve learned a lot from him over these years, he’s given me a lot of advice – while coarsely laughing in my face.  Joe and I both know I’ve left that house a different person from the girl who moved in, and we both know there are a lot of memories I’ll happily leave behind.  But you know what?  All my memories of Joe are good.  As we parted he told me to call him if there is anything I need, anytime.  He always had this catchphrase he used  to say as a goodbye to me, in his broad Oxfordshire accent.  But weirdly, he didn’t say it this time, dunno why not.  So when he reached the door I said to him,

“Goodbye my luvvur, I’d best get on.”


++ Another Joe says goodbye ++


I’m being kicked out of my home. We’ve done nothing wrong, no rent arrears or anything, but my landlady has given my home to her darling daughter, (Princess) Fiona.  Although they own a massive farm, an industrial park, a waste dump and a laundry and at least 15 rental farm cottages, some of which are even empty; (Princess) Fiona decided that she wanted mine.  Possibly, it’s in part due to the fact that I’ve repainted it, re-carpeted it and turned a run-down old cottage into a home; one she liked, a lot.

When I got the letter I cried.  Then I rang Dolly Fish who is always there for me, as a single parent she can’t afford to go out.  She calmed me down.  Ok, maybe she didn’t actually make me laugh, not that I’m complaining or anything, but she’s studying comedy at University now and they haven’t got to the “being funny” module yet, so it’s not allowed.  They grade them at Comedy Uni like this;

Absolutely Hilarious – (First).  Careers include senior management in either the NHS or Local Government and designing high-end fashion.

GSOH – (roughly equates to a 2:1).  Career options include; Big Brother contestant, WWE wrestler or Dentist.

Lol –  (2:2) Careers include receptionist at a doctor’s surgery, car parking attendant and Jehovah Witness.

Fun! – (Third). Career: Page 3 girl or Christian rock band.

Jim Davidson – (Fail).  Graveyard attendant.

The next nightmare on the moving scene was breaking it to the kids.  I approached it positively.  I explained about (Princess) Fiona and told them that it was nice for her (to steal our home) and we should feel happy when good things happen (even to bad people), cos then it means good things might also happen in our lives.  Then I asked them where they wanted to live.  We have three choices Witney to the West of us, Eynsham to the East or stay in this village and move three doors down, to one of the houses that wasn’t good enough for (Princess) Fiona.  Their answers were as follows:

Sami: “Eynsham”

Amba: “Witney”

Asha: “This village”

Dumb question or what?

(Princess) Fiona

How to Leave Feedback

26 April, 2012

My basic rule of thumb with leaving feedback has always been; the worse the event – the better the feedback I leave it.  Sort of like leaving reverse feedback actually.  So if I go to something that I think is utterly, mind blowingly shite, then I often just feel sorry for them and tell them it was good.  I mean if they don’t know how crap they are, then they’re a long way from change.  So, instead of shattering their reality and spending months resetting their dysmorphic self belief (back down to zero), I tend to leave them happy in ignorance.

I once received a copy of Oxford Montessori’s school brochure (when I  only had one child and actually cared about that sort of thing – his education and stuff).  It was full of spelling mistakes, incorrectly used words and even a map which had one of the schools located on the wrong side of the street.  Here’s a quote I remember;

“We will inform you if your child is illegible for the government voucher scheme”.

Illegible instead of eligible?  I think they were offering my child the chance of their amazing education skills for only £5,000 a year.  I thought the brochure was the best indicator of the school they could possibly send out to be honest.  I didn’t ring up with corrections, I rang the local state school and had a look round instead.

With workshops I’ve enjoyed, I’ll often leave a bit of feedback on small things that could be improved like, “move the venue from East London to Birmingham” etc., all helpful stuff.   Generally speaking, it’s received by the host with, er, hostility.  This happened recently, so I’ve decided to have a bit of a re-think on feedback and how to leave it.

My new forumla for feedback is based on my many years of research, trial and, oh-s0-many errors.  I think I’ve now developed an exciting new approach which will give you incredible results.  Soon, you will find people hanging on your every word and inviting you to be a public speaker at their events.   Please feel free to copy it, or expand on it in your own intimate style.  Although no two situations are ever exactly the same, with this method you will get massive-results-which-blow-your-mind. The conversation should typically go along these lines;

Host(ile) facilitator:  Hey, How was my workshop?

You:  “Oh your workshop……” (pause for thought, like you’re thinking back to the actual day, instead of remembering your lines.  Basically the more you pause at this stage the better the overall effect.  So fill that pause with something like imagining yourself walking backwards through your whole house – include garage and/or sheds).  Then when you’ve done that, you can begin…

You: “Oh it was, well, really fantastic”

Host(ile): Really?  Do you really think so?  I mean I know I’m relatively new to this but….

 You;  (interrupt with enthusiasm) “Oh, yeah, you’re not the biggest, that’s true, but OMG! you’re so the best, the best, it was fan-tas-tic. Really, really good.

Host(ile): Wow, that’s so nice of you, I’m so glad you liked it.  We’ll be doing some more later in the year…

You: (interrupting enthusiastically)  More! (a slight scream should enter your voice now)  Oh, yeah, I’d like more, yeah more.  I’m just going to keep coming again and again and again it was sooooo amazing.  Thanks. (Deeply exhale and if light up a cigarette if you’re outside). 


Host(ile):  You’re welcome (he looks happy). I’ll tell you what, shall I put you on our mailing list.

You:  Yes, Yes, YES!

I guarantee, you’ll get a much better result if you use this method anytime you’re asked for feedback.  If you need to practise this complex technique before you use it then write some feedback about my blog below.  (Just scroll up if you need help remembering the formula.)

Introductory price: £7,777.99  (cash/paypal)

H x

Wembley Great Hall, 1st and 2nd Oct 2011

You’ve probably heard of Paul McKenna (McK) right, but might not have heard of Richard Bandler.  He’s something of a big guru in the world of NLP and hypnosis.  A controversial character for many reasons, none of which I can be bothered to bitch on about here.  His innovative techniques for phobias, metaphorical language and personal change, I’ve used with success.  I’ve never seen him because his training seminars are way out of my price range.  I have read some of his books one of which “A Guide to Trance-formation” I rate highly as a guide to learning hypnosis – if you ever want to.  Overall, I didn’t really know what to think, other than he’s got quite a dedicated fan club who dangle on his every hypnotic syllable (eugh).  So when the chance to see him for two days for £188 arrived in my inbox I took it, well I bought it from NLP Life actually.  Most of his training seminars cost thousands of pounds to attend (hence I haven’t done any of them) and this seemed (comparatively) a good deal.

In terms of “getting the life I wanted”, well when I booked this seminar I have to admit I didn’t really think that was something I particularly needed.  I’ve been feeling pretty happy with my life for a while now.  I do struggle to understand the pseudo spiritual culture rife at the moment like “The Secret” where the goal of life is – getting what you want.  If I was leading a seminar it would be called “Want the life you’ve already got” (and no one would come).  The real “secret” of a lot of this bull is about giving people unattainable dreams and then convincing them they can have them.  Then if they aren’t able to attain that dream (because it’s totally unrealistic and implausible and unachievable) then the problem is that they didn’t “believe” in it enough to make it happen.  So it’s their own stupid fault they’ve failed again.  I think there are kinder ways of seeing the world than this.  To be honest, I think it’s probably better for people if you just cut out the middle bit and told them at the start that the “Secret” is it’s all their own fault.  I think if you did it in a slightly mystical way with some soft music and a faraway look in your eye then it could be really effective.  I’ll try it out on people over the next couple of weeks and let you know how it goes.  Maybe in the playground, next time one of my mum chums comes to complain about her husband leaving dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, I can go into a slightly altered state and tell her that I “feel” (because a lot of this stuff runs on how we “feel” about things), yes, I feel that ultimately she is creating this situation and that only she can resolve it (because there is no longer any such thing as “fault” only incomplete solutions).

Ok, so you can see that I wasn’t the most ideal candidate for this seminar, but by the time it actually came round, I have to say I was feeling pretty uncertain about some of the decisions I was making about my future.  I’d lost my mojo somewhere around early August and blamed it on six weeks of holidays with my three darlings at home (what to speak of two weeks in a tent with them).  But it wasn’t really true, I had properly lost my mojo and didn’t know where or how to get it back.  I was happy enough, but just not as sparkly as I normally feel.  For example, I’d look at my blog and just not write it, even though I used to love it.  So I was sort of curious by the time it came round to see if it would help me, or if it would fill me with impossible dreams and then leave me on Sunday evening, waiting for a tube in the rain with big fantasy umbrella keeping me dry – if you know what I mean.

The first thing about the seminar that made a real impression on me was that McK opened it alone.  Yep, Bandler hadn’t bothered to get out of bed for 1,300 people (at an average price of £270 pp).  Unbelievable.  None of the “Hi, it’s like really lovely of you all to be here, this is gonna be so fabulous” etc etc ad nauseum.  I had to admit I sort of liked it him for it.  I mean how many of us sit through all sorts of shite just for the social nicety of it all.  Bandler didn’t.  I think I was envious as I was sitting through yet another McK enactment of his dream life as Sean Connery.  (He obviously hasn’t seen Megamind yet).

McKenna smoking during the break

McKenna smoking during the break

I think it went a bit like this the night before:

Bandler:  “Fuck it, McKenna you do the fucking morning, I’m not getting out of bed and driving all the way to fucking Wembley till I’ve had my fucking brunch.”

McK: “Er, ok, I’ll warm them up using my rather fabulous James Bond persona.  The natural charm and confidence I adopt will spread good feelings through the audience and……”

Bandler (interrupting) : “Do what the fuck you like, make them cluck like fucking chickens but don’t expect me there before 3pm”.

McKenna: “Ok M, leave it to me, ”.

Bandler: “What did you fucking call me?”

McK : “Nothing”

So McKenna did the morning.

Now I have to say I’ve seen McK a few times in the past.  The first time I saw him he was in a really bad mood.  I don’t know what was up with him – he was living the Bond life he wanted after all. Wearing a Bond suit, telling the time on a Bond watch, driving a Bond car, planning his career with a real life Money Penny;  and dating Bond girls – who turn in psychos and stab him in the back – hey what more could a guy want?  Anyway, I went to his I can make you thin event a few times, I bought tickets, I won tickets, I couldn’t get away.  And I couldn’t get thin either.

Ok, so let’s get back to Bandler, when he eventually got up and had brunch (he’s American and I believe they all have brunch every day; then hot dogs with yellow mustard in the afternoon when they’re doing their police jobs; then they have dinner somewhere swanky in the evening. Trust me, I’ve seen it ont’elly).  He managed to spur himself towards our event and arrive mid afternoon.  No rush, no rush.  Then he proceeded to tell outrageously funny (and seemingly embellished) stories of inventive therapy sessions he’d conducted.  Couldn’t help but like his stories and his irreverential style.  During all this he was spinning something called “nested loops”.  It’s a hypnotic technique where you begin a story and then digress with another story, and another etc building different levels within each story.  Then you do some subliminal work on the clients (us) and close the stories one by one in the right order.  Well, that’s how Bandler teaches it, but it’s certainly not how he does it himself.  I have to say many of the loops were not closed and I have no idea what the hell he was doing with them all over the place.  But I sure felt good by the end of the day and felt like he actually gave a shit about people’s mental well being.  This was also reflected in the imaginative and kind work he did with people on the stage.  Humble he is not, but skilled he certainly is.

On the second day there was an interesting exercise with McK where we looked at our values and from there our goals (yes, yawn, is there anyone who hasn’t done that a thousand times before), but then we put them on a time line and played around with them on there.  A timeline is an imaginary line depicting your life in chronological time.  You can move stuff around on it, change things and do interesting stuff with it therapeutically.  Anyway, eventually we went to the end of our lines (metaphorically our old age) and looked back over the part we’d been planning with our values etc and checked we were happy with it.  McK, then asked a few people in the audience about theirs.  Now a lot of the audience were NLPers (you can tell cos they look like estate agents.  “Height phobia Madam? I want you to imagine yourself in a low lying bungalow in Southend, feel how big the rooms are, notice how small and grey the price appears, would you like a viewing?”).  So, from the audience we got all the typical  I want, I want, I wants.  There were famous writers, famous musicians, famous filmmakers and famous photographers (notice a theme anyone?). Fine.

But as I looked down my own timeline there wasn’t anything famous on it.  I saw myself responsibly bringing up three children on my own, who I love.  I saw myself working as a hypnotherapist, which I love.  And I saw myself spending an inordinate amount of time getting a science degree from the Open University, which I will love.  Nothing sexy, glamorous, award winning, rich or famous along this line.  But as I looked back from my old age perspective I felt an incredibly powerful sense of well being, I felt the reward of being responsible to my children, the joy of helping people with their problems and the challenge of study.  And I felt an incredible sense of simple satisfaction that I’d spent those years of my life on those things.  And to be honest, there’s something a bit priceless about feeling that good about the life you’re living; the one you’re already actually living, not an imaginary life that you wish you had.  And right at that moment, I realized I’d found my mojo again.

Paul McKenna

Richard Bandler

The other good news is that I’ve picked up my blog and started writing (obviously) and begun to manically walk everywhere I go.  I’ve stopped over-eating and one week after the seminar have lost 5lbs.  I have also more strangely found myself doing stomach crunches at 5am in the living room before going back to bed (!!). I don’t know if it was Bandler or McK, but I have to say, I’m really glad I went along.

Bye xx

Saddler’s Wells Theatre, Oct 2011

Akram Khan’s latest offering to the contemporary dance world is truly the sort of thing you see once in a lifetime.  Ok, that’s overlooking the fact that it’s coming back to Saddler’s Wells next year – so you’ll be able to see it once in your lifetime as well as me.

The most amazing thing about it is the feeling of honesty and love.  I don’t mean that in a “luvvie” type of way.  He takes us on what initially appears to be his journey from growing up a standard British “youf” bickering with his Pakistani father.  But as the story unfolds, it’s his father’s journey that becomes the deeper storyline in Desh.  Touching it is too.  Within this we are both transported right into the midst of a traditional fairy tale and then challenged with reality of Pakistani child workers – working for us..  Well, you can’t say he didn’t fit a lot in, can you?

If the story telling is magical, then the visual feast of Khan at his most creative and beautiful dancing us through it is more than breathtaking.   The other lovely thing about Khan is that he doesn’t desert his sense of humour when spinning his silken yarns.  I laughed and cried during this performance.   The amazing visual effects, designed by Timmy Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) enable Khan to climb animated trees and dance through the sky, proper dancing with the stars it was.  It’s spell binding.  All of the animated “front drops” he uses were hand sketches, every few seconds requiring thousands of drawings, and the animated scene lasts at least ten minutes.  The work behind it is staggering.  I sat and watched and couldn’t really believe the beauty unfolding on the stage in front of me.

Joscelyn Pook (Eyes Wide Shut, Massive Attack) composed the music, and interesting and haunting blend of vocals often mixed with ecclesiastical undertones, this turns Khan’s piece into a truly multidimensional masterpiece.

I first saw Khan some twelve years ago, then a talented classical Indian dancer in the Kattak school.  He would dance and at the end his Guru (teacher) would stand up and accept the applause.  I didn’t see his Guru last night, although he might well have been there.  But what I did see, was how Khan’s early roots have stood him in good ground for all that grown out of him since.  He has kept the grace of his early performances, despite being 37 (aged in the world of dance) and kept the dignity and respect of the culture he was trained in.  Although now in his dancing we have occasional glimpses of his traditional pieces – I have to say I find his newer work fresher and speaks louder to us, his generation.

To sit in the theatre and watch Desh is like an amazing dream or what an acid trip should be but isn’t.  Informative, beautiful, unreal, meaningful and moving.  Take a Khan trip once in your lifetime, go on try it, but beware you might get addicted.