I was recently asked about online dating. To protect the identity of the person, I’ll paraphrase it.

“Dear Agony Aunt,  I’ve been single for at least 5 minutes and I’m desperate to find somebody, somebody, somebody, somebody; can anybody find me, somebody to love?  Please can you share some top tips?  

Unlovable, Hull.

Dear Unlovable Hull,

Have you tried the Queen fansite?  I expect they must have a dating page, because no-one, except other Freddie fans, are going to date you.  Sorry if it sounds racist, it’s not, it’s music-ist and maybe the truth hurts. No die-hard Queen fan is going to get any action, unless it’s with one of “their own Think of it as a unlikely as Freddie Mercury being straight, or Elton John getting married, Tom Cruise having kids, Madonna having friends, or William Shatner shagging some sexy cat aliens*.

*William Shatner did actually shag a couple of alien cat-women sisters in the film “Star Trek; Into Darkness”.  This immorality got the Starship filmed banned by a Pastor Swanson, who clearly didn’t appreciate Shatner setting his phaser to stun.  Pastor Swanson (for he was sired of man, but born of a swan), was so outrage by this storyline that he banned himself and his children from seeing it, on the grounds of, wait-for-it, bestiality and inter-species sex.  Interestingly, in Pastor Swanson’s bible, Jesus has no problem with threesomes and/or sister-on-sister incest, before or after marriage.  Well, I think we can all guess who’s behind that bit of sexual liberation, wink, wink. Ole Mary Magdalen, obviously teaching Jesus a trick or two, (but even she said no to cats). Pastor Swanson, the scion of Man-on-Swan loving, knew from the pain of personal experience that mixed marriages don’t work.  Perhaps when young, he struggled to adjust to alternate weekends; having the freedom of the river one week and then, the confines of a 1-bed apartment in Detroit the next?  Perhaps, he was the proverbial “ugly duckling”, swimming in armbands behind Mummy, (or “Hiss” as he called her)?   Whatever happened back then, we’ll never know, but it all came flooding back to haunt Pastor Swanson when he heard about Sexy Cat Aliens. He took a stand, like a middle-aged man Greta Thunberg, and he said, “Stop”. I wonder what the sexy-cat-aliens said.

Pastor Swanson with his Mother, Hiss. She says she is “So proud of him, now.”

Sexy Cat Alien: “Purrrr, you were inter-galactic last night baby”

Swan: “No, I was drunk, god, I regret that. I wish I couldn’t remember it. Is that what you people call normal? Because that sure aint “normal” on my riverbank. I’ve a good mind to tell the Queen on you, she’ll chop off yer head, what to speak of yer bollocks. Prince Philip, now there’s a man who know how to woo a swan; he’s so charming and funny and so, giving. The breadcrumbs he brings, all Duchy Organic, nothing finer, what a gent? Oh, I’m like putty in his hands.  So, back to you, then Galaxy-boy?  How ‘bout you just feck off into a black hole somewhere, you Space Pervert?  I’m off to sit in the weir and wash those memories away.”

So, back to online dating. I’ve compiled a 10 point check list, to help women become more successful, at online dating. (I may write one for the chaps, later, if I’m asked);

1.  Put on your profile, you are looking for “Mr Right”, to have sex with.

2.  Lower your personal standards; then lower them some more.

10.  Er, that’s it.

If you need help with a problem that you, (or a “friend” of yours), are facing,  get “them” to write in the comments box below.

Xxx

I was recently asked to write about “Loneliness”, by my friend Rich BJ., (that’s actually his real name; sucks doesn’t it?).  According to BJ, loneliness is a cutting-edge issue of our time and one, I have to say, I often help clients resolve.  So, I’ve written a few pointers on the dos and don’ts of loneliness.  But before we jump-in with a shit-storm of bad solutions, like a Trump supporter in a gay orgy; let’s first try to clarify what we mean by “loneliness”.  I’m sure that the patronising tone of this article, will probably lead you to consider that I also may have suffered the isolation of the human condition, and remarkably, come out the other side with a wisdom borne of experience.  Well, not true!  I’ve always been incredibly popular and had loads of friends.  Now, back to you.

Often, clients say to me;  “I’m just not like other people” and this may be true.  Perhaps, you’ve been shut out of spaceship and your “people” legged-it at warp-speed to another Galaxy, leaving you behind in the woods.  Many of us have been subjected to similar types of social exclusion, often verging on bullying.  But worry not, you’re amongst friends here, and help is at hand.  There are some popular misconceptions on this topic I think we need to clear up first.  No matter how “alien” you feel, do not hide in a dark garden shed or entice a ten year old boy into that shed, by playing “catch my balls” with him, at night.  Do not move into his bedroom, with or without, asking his parents’; nor hide there as a “special secret” between you two.  Neither, contrary to popular belief, can I recommend you engage in cosplay, or cross-dressing with his pre-schooler sister.  If the police are chasing you, do not go on-the-run with a group of ten year old boys, strangely dedicated to you.  Trust me on this, you can save everyone a lot of hassle by just handing yourself in for medical research.  The probes they’ll stick in you are a kindness, compared to the probing on a sex offenders wing, in a high security prison.

Aliens who hid in children’s bedrooms

Perhaps you just feel inherently “different”, to other people.  Maybe you’re a bit of an “outsider” at home, or you just don’t want to play-by-the-rules of conventional society? For those of you who really can’t fit-in, my suggestion is to turn to the healing power of music.  Try dressing from head-to-toe in black, perhaps don some daytime make-up which makes you look slightly vampirescque and look for musicians wearing the same clothes.  Buy their music, whatever it is, then buy all their merchandise, (even wear the t-shirt) and travel as often and as far, as you can, spending all of your money on their concerts.  For a mere $100, you can find yourself surrounded by tens of thousands of other outcasts; all wearing the exact same black clothes and all gathered together (on a weekend night), voicing their refusal to partake in a system they neither understand, nor agree with.  You’ll find things in common, as you stand patiently in line, waiting to show your ticket, or try to locate your numbered seat, amongst the thousand of identical rows.  Trust me, the unique feelings of isolation and disaffection, will be amplified as you all rhythmically raise a fist in time to the music and join in the mass sing-along.  You may have just found your tribe.   Who knew there were so many people, like you, who work in admin during the week.

Screenshot 2019-09-14 at 17.27.03
Individualism can be an isolating and lonely experience.

For some of you, it’s an insatiable craving for friendship and connection which creates feelings of desperate loneliness.  Even though you could be (unhappily) married, or have children (who secretly dislike you), for some of you, that’s just not enough.  Perhaps you feel like your life is stuck in second-gear, and it hasn’t been your day, your month or, even your year.  Given the opportunity, perhaps you don’t even have five good friends you could share a rundown, Manhattan penthouse with?  Don’t feel stupid or unpopular.  The trick to having friends is to systematically collect them.  Start by locating a weekly classes or activity, you can attend.  By seeing people on a regular basis, having shared interests, you build relationships.  Plan to acquire one new friend at each activity you go to.  Once you have four friends, meet each of them, once per month and continue to collect more.   The more classes you attend, the more friends you will make.  Simple.  Let’s say you attend two classes for six weeks; in just two years you could rack up 18 friends, filling both your diary and any rundown penthouses you want to live in.

Lastly, perhaps you are empathic to the isolation and social confusion of others, particularly young people and adolescents?  Maybe you want to reach out to help them, but you don’t know any?  One of the best ways you can do this is to go back to college and get a degree in English Literature.  You’ll also need to do a post-graduate year, to qualify as a teacher, then you will be able to apply for teaching jobs in wealthy,  conservative, mens colleges.  Once installed there, you will be able to play a pivotal role in broadening your student’s minds, creating a sub-community of attractive young men, all deeply connected through…poetry.  Don’t worry about getting fired for challenging the “system” through the power of verse (no limericks thank you).  Yes, you will change lives, (primarily your own), by surviving unemployment, without references or social security benefits.  Don’t worry, in twenty years time or so, you’ll be invited to their big weddings, lots of people will shake your hand and thank you for being “inspirational”; and you’ll get to eat and drink for free!

Another inspirational poetry teacher is invited to wedding.

Perhaps you are facing problems that you’d like my help with, in future articles? Write to me, confidentially, in the “comments” section below. I’ll answer every one I find interesting.

X

Empowerment Parenting

6 July, 2013

I’ve been thinking a lot about differing parenting styles, apparent in children in the playground and at parties.  Sometimes it feels like we’re inundated with the selfy-helpy world of how-to-bring-up-your-kids. Having spent thousands of hours on facebook, er, researching child rearing, one day it struck me, I finally realised where I had been going wrong.  It was one of those “aha” moments, that changes your life forever.   Having tried my new approach out on more than two children, I can honestly say it’s totally amazing and it will change your life too.  I call it the GeddityerselfTM method.

There are only two rules in GeddityerselfTM parenting.  But they must be followed at all times.  They are:

  1. Say no to “no”.  Yes, that’s right we say no to saying no and we say yes to saying yes.  We never ever say yes to saying no.  No, we’d never do that.  So if your child asks for something, you always say “Yes”.  You can choose to that with an endearing term such as  “darling”, “sweet child of mine,” or for a teenager, “mummy’s lickle lamb” (always goes down a treat).
  1. The second rule is that you always follow that “yes” with our second foundation mantra; Geddityerself TM.

This works with children of all ages.  Here are a few examples;

Child:  “Mum, can I have a drink?”
Mum:  “Yes darling.  Geddityerself TM

Teenager:  “Mum, can I have a car?”
Mum:  “Yes, Geddityerself TM.”

Child:  Can I have lunch?
Mum:  “Yes, my love.  Geddityerself TM.”

Child:   “Can I have an allowance?”
Mum:  “Yes, my lickle lamb. Gedditoffyourdad.”

The sceptics amongst you might be thinking, but does this really work in real life?  Here are just a few of the many thousands of letters I receive everyday, from ordinary people, just like you.  The one thing they have in common is they have changed their lives, and the lives of their children, for the better using the Geddityerself TM  method.

“We were on our way to leave our seven children with social services one weekend, when we heard about your Geddityerself TM parenting method. Your blog was a turning point in our lives. These days, we all live as one big happy family.  Honestly, we can’t thank you enough.”
John & Olivia Walton, West Virginia, USA

“GeddityerselfTM parenting is a work of great emotional depth.  It challenges the holes in the fabric of redundant ideals of the western parental system.  I am in no doubt that I have been a better parent to little Sergey, Tatyana, Ilya, Leo, Marya, Petya, Nicholas, Varvara, Andrey, Michael, Sascha and Alexis since studying it.  Oh, and my wife, Sacha is getting on much better Timmy, my illegitimate child now.  (Although, she’s still a bit frosty with his mother).
Leo Tolstoy, Russia

“Fantastic!  You deserve a prize.”
A. Nobel, Stockholm

“Your gas bill is now overdue and requires immediate payment.”
British Gas, FTSE 100 Company, UK

Buy the Geddityerself TM Approach today for £199.99

While stocks last!

“The pressures of parenting and money meant my husband and I were both working second jobs, to make ends meet. We couldn’t cope. With the help of Gettidyerself parenting, I gave up my evening job as a prostitute and my husband stopped dealing crack on weekends. Instead, we spend our free time running happily through flower meadows, like other families. Thank you so much.”

Disclaimer:  Due to unprecedented demand, the Gettidyerself TM method has, er, completely sold out in all leading bookstores and on Amazon.

Copies are still available at the Wednesday market in Witney.  (Cash only)

I live in a rural community, a small village with no street lights.  It’s surrounded by fields which are sowed and ploughed each year, by one of the three farmers who own all the land as far as the eye can see.  We watch the fields change throughout the seasons; the tractors ploughing, watching new plants appear in spring wondering what’s coming this year.  It changes see, each year the fields are a different colour, I think it’s called crop rotation (but stop me if I’m getting too technical, ok). Some years, we have masses of bright red poppies in golden corn fields, or vivid yellow oil seed rape, another year it’s green stuff that’s a magnet for swans.  Then in the late summer the combine harvesters drone all night, bringing in both the harvest and a bout angry monster nightmares for the children.

We go out and watch the combines sometimes, it’s a messy old business, but it’s efficient.  Not like the weeks of back breaking labour it must have taken in the good-ole-days.  This mechanisation has caused a redundancy amongst in the relationship between farmer and village.  We don’t help him with his harvest, he doesn’t sell produce locally, I barely know the three who farm around my village.  There is no Cider With Rosie round here.  Gone are the days of kids with (hopefully blunt) scythes, gathering the hay into bales, snogging under the horse-drawn cart.    And this naturally begs the question; if they’re not off school for the whole summer to bring in the harvest/snogging under the cart; then why exactly are they off school for so long?  The only reasons I can think of are;

  1. Keeping Thomas Cook in business with ridiculously inflated prices during the holidays.
  1. Stopping women getting decent paid jobs because no-one on a normal wage can afford 70 days of childcare a year.

School’s-out-for-summer once meant that work experience began and the children contributed to the economy.  Ok, I’m not really saying you should put your children to work in the fields, or up a chimney, (although if they really want to do it and they’re seem naturally good at it, who am I to tell you to hold them back in life?).

combine

Not all children are ready to drive combine harvesters.

The issue of trying to fit in work around school holidays is one that has failed to be addressed by any political party.  The women I’ve spoken to about this, (in my research to find a way to work more than my sporadic self-employment) all seem to rely on a bit of childcare and a lot of family support.  But, this is not an option for all of us.  I, like many, don’t have family to ask and although I can ask friends, there are only so many times you can expect someone to happily have your three children all day.  I’ve been self employed for about 4 years now and with the recession my work has reduced considerably.  With my youngest now in school (phew), I could get a part time job, except covering the school holidays.  Childcare is a problem, the problem being that the cheapest childcare starts at £3.50 per kid, per hour.  I’ve got three of them, so I’m looking at spending £10.50 an hour to go to work.  Ok, there are tax credit incentives to help with this, but many single parents really do find that the more hours they work, the worse off they are.

The big issue here is that as an economical entity, can Britain afford to support the massive amount of single parents on benefits?  It doesn’t make sense to structure our country’s economy around school holidays for the sake of, well what?  Teaching unions?  The UK currently has 2 million single parent families, really, shouldn’t we be trying to address their return to work in a more practical way?  We often hear talk about part time work for mothers, but the issue is not part time, many of us can manage that on a daily basis.  The issue is finding a job with 70 days holiday a year.

School holidays are determined by the Local Education Authority (LEA) for Community and Community Funded schools and set by the school governors for Aided and Foundation schools.  Schools are required to teach a minimum 190 days per year, offering 2 sessions a day.  There are guidelines on the number of hours of teaching per week (21 to 24) depending on the age of the children.  But, interestingly, there is no maximum number of days they are allowed to teach, this is determined by the contracts between the schools and teachers.  Overseen by the big daddy, teaching unions.

The new kid on the block of hope with all this is Free Schools.  These school are a government initiative to support the setting up of independently managed state schools  They are run by charitable organisations and do not have to follow the National Curriculem, there are currently 79 of them open in the UK.  Many are faith based schools, such as the Avanti (hindu) school in Harrow, the largest of the free schools in the UK.  Many of them are also under-subscribed.  Currently, all of the free schools operate conventional holiday term dates.  But do these schools spell out some hope for a re-organisation of holidays for the struggling millions of parents trying to make a living?  Will they be the forerunners in a re-organisation of school holidays that will enable many single parents to return to workable hours on even a part time basis?  Possibly, but there are other things the Free Schools bring to UK education.  One of the more worrying aspects is The Department of Education (DoE) allowing them to employ unqualified teachers without an open application procedure. Their website says:

 

“Free schools do not have to employ teachers with Qualified Teacher Status (although certain specialist posts will still require QTS).  Instead, Free Schools have the freedom to appoint the people they believe are best equipped to deliver their unique educational vision, for example an experienced instructor or lecturer from a further education institution.  Ensuring the highest quality of teaching is paramount to the success of each school.”

Interesting, isn’t it?  Free Schools’ teachers operate on the self-belief of their capability in teaching, rather than specific qualifications.  I wonder if this system that will in time be a precedent to the other struggling government departments (other than MPs, where it already openly operates).  Will we have Free Hospitals, where people who believe  they can operate perform surgery on brain tumours?  Or, perhaps we’ll have self appointed Free RAF pilots who, having done karaoke to R. Kelly a few too many times, believe they can fly.  Sort of like an employment based X-factor, but without tedious auditions.

Another aspect of education they’re allowed to take less literally, is with staff contracts, again the D.o.E website explains:

“One of the additional freedoms enjoyed by Academies and Free Schools is the ability to set their own terms and conditions for staff. The Free School’s Academy Trust will be responsible for employer and employee pension contributions, and for administrative matters relating to pension provision for all staff employed by the Free School.”

If that isn’t a direct hit in the eye against Teaching Unions, then I don’t know what is.

Despite the many short comings of the Free School system, the fact remains that we have arranged our economy around un-workable term dates and this means we perpetuate the benefit-dependent, single parent population.  It’s not true that single parents don’t want to work; people who say this have probably never raised children alone – so they have no idea how appealing it sounds to spend all day with adults.  Probably, in the same way, staying home with children, sounds really homey and loving (instead of shouty and tantrumy).  Few people prefer to raise their children on the poverty line, when additional earned income might offer them so much more.

There are no immediate or easy solutions to this, but it’s interesting that those expensively equipped educational buildings, our state funded schools, sit idle and empty for 175 days per annum, almost half a year.  Surely, there must be something we can do with them?

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

I’ve been trying to buy a second hand car.   This can be a difficult thing to accomplish as a single woman who knows nothing (useful) about cars.  My last car was a silver one and it was very expensive to maintain, as well as being very unreliable, so never get silver.

Another thing I learned last time, was to be very careful about who you buy it from.  Previously I have avoided all the dealers.  Instead, I bought my last car from a retired middle aged couple in leafy North Oxford.  They had a genuine reason for sale and were effusive about the car and sad to be selling it.  Turned out they were a couple of crafty old shysters who swapped my cash for scarp metal in their neighbour’s recycling boxes.

The man I bought my last car from

They’d banged an old tyre on at each corner and called it a “car”.  They assured me the engine was “very quiet” and off I rolled, literally downhill all the way from there.  They hadn’t climbed to the top of the Saga cruise ship without using other people as their stair lift in life, I was to discover.  The “car” had everything replaced by my local garage over the following three years.

This time I decided on a Vauxhall Zafira.  Wtf?  I hear you ask. I’m sure you imagined me in a vintage sports car or saw me as a sophisticated Yummy queuing up in environmentally customized 4×4 outside the school gates?   I hate to disappoint, but there are a few intelligent reasons which led me to choose Vauxhall over Lexus, Range Rover or Maserati – they’re all called price. Chiefly, the price is right because Zafira’s qualify for a government scheme called Motability for the disabled.  It’s really clever, just like the name, a synergistic combination of motor and motility, or motor and ability, (or motab and ility).  Anyway, exactly what the scheme is doing for the disabled?  By signing over the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) each month for three years, anyone in receipt of Higher DLA can lease a brand new car with full servicing, tyres and Road Tax included.  After three years they can chose to upgrade again to a brand new vehicle if required.  This clever scheme has run since the 1970s and has managed to both create a whole consumer base for new cars (people who would never have afforded them and wanted to get out) and simultaneously has managed to boost the flagging motor trade with thousands of sales per annum.  Clever eh?  It was introduced by the Late Lord Goodman (before he died).  Anyway, the upshot for me of all this is that there are tons of second hand Zafira’s around,  they’re low in price,  low in miles and have a full service history.  I was going to have one.  Motability is the biggest supplier of second-hand cars in the motor industry, but you can only get one of their used cars from a motor dealer.

So out on the hunt for a good deal, I first visited the Bellinger Vauxhall dealership in Wantage.  I had two of the “Oh-my- god children” (omgc) with me, which sufficiently deterred any of the salesmen from an approach.  We even ventured into one of their glassy showrooms where I acquired lots of new biros (and the omgc acquired all the complimentary biscuits).  We were just about to leave; feeling very satisfied that Vauxhall had a lot to offer, when a salesman approached.  Five minutes later I found myself huddled over a brochure trying to decide which of the brand new cars I’d be most interested in.  The omgc excelled themselves by playing quietly together near one of the show cars.  Sensing my dilemma (I don’t actually want a new car), my dealer said if I wasn’t fussy on colour, he’d see what he could do.  (Please god, not silver.)   He disappeared for ten minutes and when he came back he generously added £1,000 to the price of each of the cars, saying he’d found the new price list.  Weird.  At this point I wanted a fast exit, so I asked the omgc to stop filling the show car with forecourt gravel and we left.

I needed a car with more space for the kids

Now, I learned an important thing on that outing.  No one takes a woman seriously if she has two dirty young boys in tow.  She’s just not considered mentally competent.  So when I visited Hartwell Vauxhall in Kidlington, I made sure I amassed four dirty young boys and an idea of a competitive price.  The hustle was on.  And then it was off.  Could it have been the sight of my old banger part askew on their lot, or the sound of breaking plastic which arose unidentifiably from the back seats while we did the test drive?  I’m not sure, but I was mighty upset when I saw Sami prize the top off the gumball machine and generously share his stolen hoard.  I rushed over hoping no one else had seen.  Patiently, I explained that they had to pay for the sweets and they were there to help sick children with Leukaemia.  Looking at me with total scorn, omgc #1 said “Eating loads of sweets isn’t going to make them better.”  Another hasty exit, (but I didn’t make the kids empty their pockets of gobstoppers).

Eventually, I found a car.  Well, actually my 85 year old mother found it in her local paper.   She told me to ring the garage in Tewkesbury, and while I was on the phone she interrupted asking;

“Will they take a cheque or do they want cash”

“Would they prefer a Banker’s Draft?”

“Can you pay now by phone, or do they need the card?”

Eventually, I told her that we’d play them hard by going to see the car before buying it. Savvy – that’s me.

Jason Jones Autocare was the final stop on my car buying journey.  He turned out to be brilliantly eccentric, everything I’d ever imagined in a second-hand car dealer.  He was vaguely recognisable from the photo on his website, obviously taken around 1988, when he was svelte and youthful.  He couldn’t find any of the many cars he’d promised me were in stock.  He couldn’t work the basics on his own computer and had to get someone old enough to be his grandfather to tell him where to click (it was that hard).  He also had a great sense of humour (obviously).  However, he managed to get me the car I wanted and to undercut the main Vauxhall dealers by about £1,500.  This was without giving me any special discounts or deals, so what can I do but recommend him?

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, he knew all about the silver cars and he advised me to go for a blue one.  He said they’re really reliable and never crash.

Me and my new motor

(Should I mention that the kids smashed a window on it before it was a week old?)

Nah,  let’s not spoil it eh?

Crazy Sexy Gym

31 January, 2011

I have found the ultimate gym experience.  Before you ask, no, it’s not on YouTube or anything remote where you don’t actually have to move your body.  It’s a real life, get off your arse and move around gym.

Ok, it’s not a gym, but nearly.  There are a few little differences,  my Crazy Sexy Gym beats a traditional gym hands down on all the differences.

The first thing about Crazy Sexy Gym is it’s not called IRON BOLLOCKS, it’s actually called “Curves”.  You know, curves, like on a real body that goes in and out.  I’m just beginning to work on the “in” bits, but I’ve got all the “outs” nicely sorted, so I’m halfway to the perfect body already, which is why I’m not even going to call it “Curves”, but Crazy Sexy Gym.

Crazy Sexy Gym has a circuit of exercise machines, about ten of them, with some aerobic (sprung) boards in between them.  The idea is that you work your way round this circuit  Curves workout circuit three times.  You carry a little electronic tag which you plug into each machine.  This tag sets the machines to your individual resistance and off you go, a full body work out takes 30 minutes.  The really brilliant thing about this is that every time I think to myself, “I hate this, I totally hate this and I can’t carry on,” a recorded voice says “change stations now”, indicating that my full 30 seconds on that machine is over and it’s time to do 30 seconds on the next machine.  Cool isn’t it?

The ambience of Crazy Sexy Gym is unlike your normal sweaty, pushy, gym.  As you work your way around the circuit you will converse with the other women there.  (Did I mention it was women only?)  The discussions are about holidays, shopping, puddings, the amazing sale on at Evans etc.  This goes on for the entire duration of your workout, you will be breathless by the end, but you’ll know everything that’s happened in Corrie and EastEnders (but not Holyoaks).  One of the reasons I joined Crazy Sexy Gym was that when I did my trial workout, everyone else in there was at least 25 years older than me.  As I jogged heavily on the sprung boards for 30 seconds, they made comments to each other like “Oh, it’s wearing me out just looking at her” and “It’s alright when you’re young.”  I felt like I was on a Cindy Crawford exercise DVD or on in a wet Baywatch swimsuit.  I hadn’t felt that fit in years; that’s a pretty good start I thought, so I joined.

Compare that to last time I was in a proper gym (I mean exercising, not using the loos).  I was ambling power walking on the treadmill when some 26 yr old, size 8 pentathlete started sprinting right next to me.  I was trying to watch 60 Minute Makeover on the flat screen at the time.  (Have you seen it?  It’s where a load of people ransack your house in the name of home improvement.  But, they only spend 60 minutes doing all the renovations.  So literally like 30 people charge in, paint the rooms, refit your carpets, replace major appliances and install a new kitchen.  Then when the buzzer goes, indicating they have fulfilled their 60 minutes of unskilled destruction, they stop and leave it exactly as it is.  Personally, I can see a few problems with this methodology, but they’ve never shown the owners crying and the house falling down, so it must all be ok).  Where was I ?  Watching daytime TV as a skinny, fit, thin bird sprinted a quick marathon next to me.  Now, one thing I know about a lot of these “perfect” body types is that they are actually desperately insecure about how they look and genuinely think they’re fat and ugly.   I considered sweetly saying; “Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you realise your fat legs are thumping your feet so hard on the treadmill that I can’t hear this show?”  But she wouldn’t have heard me as she had some cool music on her iPod frying her Crazy Empty Head.  So instead, I decided to leave.  I stopped walking and next thing I knew I was lying on the floor behind the treadmill.

Another interesting thing about Crazy Sexy Gym is the changing rooms.  Apparently, they let the members decide what facilities they wanted.  The members opted for a kitchen rather than showers, which says a lot really doesn’t it?  Personal hygiene is taken seriously though and there is a free supply of wet wipes and deoderants for everyone to use.  Believe it or not, no one nicks them either.  The changing rooms are carpeted not tiled so  there’s no danger of a fall.  Instead of ugly metal lockers, they have nice little pine cubby holes, each one filled with a pair of very white trainers.  There’s a pair with big labels in the soles saying “Susan Whitingale”, I’ve found they fit me the best.

Changing rooms at Curves

Typical changing room at Curves.

So, now for the science.  They weigh and measure you once a month.  I worked out there twice a week for the first month, half an hour each time.  Then I had a month off with Xmas and heavy snow.    When they finally measured me, I’d lost 4 inches over my body.  That’s including an inch of my stomach, half an inch of each thigh and one off my boobs (but you’d never know it).  And I hadn’t even been for a month.  Pretty amazing I think.

You know what they say, you can’t argue with success.
Can’t recommend it higher than that.  Cost is £34 a month, give Crazy Sexy Gym a go.

Byeeeeee x