Thursday, June 14, 2007

a hopeless dawn

Wife in The North poured out the last of the gin and wiped her eyes. She was even more upset than I was at not winning the most consistently entertaining Blogpower award. ‘Thanks ever so for coming round Rilly’, she sobbed. I smiled sympathetically, trying to hide my own pain at having lost to Bryan Appleyard. Outside, a tall ship sailed past on the ocean, it's rigging clearly visible to everyone for miles around. ‘You’ve been like a sister to me’, said Wifey. ‘I knew Bryan when I worked for the Sunday Times of course’, she began. ‘He was always ruthless, even back then. We always used to say don’t upset the Appleyard whenever there was a difficult job that needed giving to someone.’ We both took out our handkerchiefs and had a good blow, drowning out the North Sea fog horn just outside the kitchen window. ‘You mustn’t be too downhearted though, Rilly’, she reassured me. ‘Remember that Bryan gets paid to write his stuff. He doesn’t have to go to a proper job as well so he has all the time in the world to write his blog and promote himself’. I permitted myself a weak smile of agreement despite my own grief as my gaze wandered over to the black kettle and matching pot that sat atop the aga. ‘I suppose you have to be getting back’, she sighed, standing up. I nodded. ‘Perhaps you should take a holiday Rilly, darling, get away from it all for a bit’. she suggested. I thought that sounded like good advice. Suddenly she grabbed my arm. ‘Oh Rilly!’ she exclaimed. ‘You’re not going to write about our chat on your blog are you?’ I smiled reassuringly. I walked down the garden path, and turned to wave goodbye. A cold wind blew in from the sea so I dug my hands deep into my pockets, and switched off the tape recorder. A holiday, I thought, was just what I needed. I got in the car, switched on the sat-nav navigation thingy, and typed in airport.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

sharing and shearing

‘G’day Sheila, I’m Bruce!’, said the man with corks in his hat and a kangaroo tattooed on his forehead, by way of introduction. ‘Hello’, I said, returning the greeting, 'and where are you from?’ Bruce put down his wobble board. ‘I’m from the Northern Territory, Sheila’, he explained. ‘Oh gosh!’ I said, ‘Do you live near wife in the north then?’. He shook his head. 'I think that’s Northumberland’, he corrected me. ‘Northern Territory is down in the southern hemisphere!’ I wondered why it was prefixed by Northern if that was the case but then summised that perhaps Northern was not simply a geographical term but rather a name given to the area of any country where the inhabitants preferred the company of sheep to that of people. ‘So, the farmer tells me you wanted to write about a sheep being shorn to appear as if you’re an agricultural worker doing seasonal and insecure work for long hours and earning minimum wage whilst living in a caravan in the farmyard because you can’t afford a house in your home village’. I nodded. ‘Rather!’ I replied. ‘Fair dinkum’, said Bruce, ‘First I need to calm the sheep down, this one’s a little bit cranky’, and with that he wrestled the sheep to the ground, where they both rolled over several times in a fierce struggle. ‘You might want to stand back love’, said Bruce, grabbing the ewe in an armlock, this could get ugly'. I backed away and bumped into the farmer who had come out from the farm house. ‘Fancy a cuppa pet?’ said the farmer. ‘He’ll be a couple of hours yet with that one’. I nodded and we both made our way back across the field. ‘We have to fleece them so they don’t fall over, because then they can’t get up again’, explained the farmer. We came to a halt. ‘Like this one’, He said, looking down on the ground. ‘Damn ramblers’, he said, prodding the figure lying on it’s back, unable to get up due to the weight of it’s rucksack, with his stick. ‘Is it male or female?’ I asked. ‘hard to tell’ said the farmer. ‘I think they’re a gender on their own, like a mule, that’s why they like carrying around all that stuff’. I thought for a moment ‘How do you think it ended up on it's back like that?’ I asked. ‘Probably met Bruce’, said the farmer. ‘When backpackers meet an Australian they play dead, it’s a kind of defence mechanism’, he explained. ‘Oh’, I said, ‘what will you do?’ The farmer pointed his shotgun at the rambler’s chest. ‘Best just to put ’em out of their misery, same as you would with a sheep’, he said. ‘Grab that mate’, he told the rambler, who took hold of the barrel as the farmer pulled him up. ‘Fancy a cuppa at the farmhouse’ he asked the rambler. ‘Oh super’, said the rambler’, newly stumbling on two feet. ‘Cream teas only £50’, the farmer told our new friend ‘Oh lovely!’, was the reply. I looked back at Bruce, who was trying to provoke the sheep into attacking him by dangling a steak just out of reach whilst poking it with a stick. The sheep was still in full possession of all it's wool but at least someone was going to get fleeced today, I thought, following the rambler into the farmhouse kitchen, and looking forward to a piece of Crocodile Dundee cake.

Update: Don't forget you still have two votes in the Blogpower awards, one today and one tomorrow. Thanks!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

smells like teen sheepdip

A sleepy little head emerged from beneath the covers and sleepy little eyes opened to greet me. ‘Mummy’ said their sleepy owner, my daughter Milly, sleepily, ‘Yes dear?’ I smiled. ‘Is it Saturday?’ she whispered. ‘yes dear’, I nodded, smiling. ‘Well just f**k off then will you mummy’ she said and disappeared back under the duvet. I pulled the covers back and she glared at me ‘You need to get up dear, you’ve got your first riding lesson today, remember’. Milly sighed. ‘But why do we need to learn to ride Mummy?’ she asked. ‘Because you two haven’t done anything entertaining for this blog for ages and if you don’t start performing for the readers then I’ll give you both to Madonna for adoption. We live in the north now remember and she’s on the look out for third world children like you’. There was another groan. ‘But Mummy, we have to go to school all week, can’t we have a lie in at the weekend?’ she asked. ‘Well!’ I snapped, ‘and what do you think I do all week then?!’ I was quite annoyed now. She looked perplexed and thought about the question for some time. ‘Actually, mummy’, she began, ‘what do you do all week?’ I was quite indignant now. ‘Well, for a start I, erm, and then I have to, err, you know, umm, and then there’s all the, ahhh, errr, to do as well!’ I had had enough of this. ‘I want you and your sister ready to go to the stables in half an hour or else I’ll ring wife in the north and swap you both for her children. Let’s see if she can write amusing stories about family life when she only has you two to work with!’ ‘Will you come with us to the lesson Mummy?’ asked Milly. ‘I will be along later dear’, I said, ‘but first I have to see a man about a sheep.’ ‘what about a sheep?’ asked Milly. ‘Well’, I explained, ‘He’s going to chop off all the sheep’s fur so I can write about it on the blog’. Milly thought for a moment. ‘What’s his name Mummy?’ she asked. ‘Alan’ I said. She thought some more. ‘So he told you his name was Alan the Shearer then, mummy?’ ‘Yes dear, what’s so strange about that? Actually his friend will be there too.’ ‘And what did his friend tell you was his name, mummy? Asked Milly. ‘Hmm, let me think, Freddy I think he said, Freddy the Shepherd.’ ‘Mummy’, Milly began, ‘you know you said you wanted to reach out and get to the heart of the North East?’ ‘Yes dear?’ I replied. Milly sighed and raised her eyebrows ‘Keep working on it mummy, You've got a way to go yet I think’, she said, looking very wise for her years, and then she pulled the duvet over her head and began pretending to snore very loudly. I don't think Milly takes me seriously sometimes, sigh, in fact I bet she doesn't even know that you can vote every day untill the 13th June in the blogpower awards.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

vote early, vote often

It's grim up north, but you can make a difference. Please help by voting for this blog in the Blogpower awards. If you won't do it for me, do it for the children. You know it makes sense. Click on the link below, I'm third from the bottom of the list, alphabetically, as Rilly Super, and you can vote once a day until the 13th June. Thank you, sob.

Vote here

I've promised the children they can have new shoes if I get enough votes, well, when I say new shoes, I should say I meant they can just have shoes full stop. Thanks for the nominations and let's just all hope none of the candidates gets carried away and starts taking it a bit too seriously. Please have a look at the other categories while you are there because some great blogs with which you will be familar and which you will want to support are nominated as well.

tagging along

I have been electronically tagged by the lovely Nunhead Mum of One to disclose eight previously unknown facts about myself. As this is very much a ‘confessional’ style of blog there isn’t much intimate and personal detail that hasn’t been included already but Ill have a go anyway:

1. The chancellors of Oxford and Cambridge fought a duel to decide who had the honour of me attending their university. They both missed, as hitting educational targets is rather red brick, after all.

2. Even though I knew Iain Dale when his famous diary was just a single sheet newsletter run off on one of those manually operated duplicating machines and delivered through the letterboxes in his cul-de-sac when Iain did his milkround he still has not added Strife in the North next to Wife in the North on his blogroll and I try as I might I cannot think what I did back then to upset him.

3. I'm often asked what do I think is the attraction of this blog. I put it down to the fact that in these busy times people do not have time to watch paint dry anymore, but they do still like to read about it.

4. It is a great regret to me that I have no recollection of the births of any of my four children due to the amount of drugs I was high on at the time. This applies to their conception as well and I feel equally, erm, regretful about this too, sigh.

5. I want to live like the common people, I want to do whatever common people do...

6. I failed my maths O-level

7. Very badly, which is why I had to withdraw my book advance in cash and count it on the kitchen table, a hundred and seventeen times

There are my eight facts then. Thank you for bearing with this blog whilst it struggles through this month apparently lacking in meaning or purpose, but I suppose at least I’m not alone in that respect, and thank you as well to anyone who nominated SITN for the blogpower award. Would I get expenses to go down to London to attend the ceremony does anyone know, it’s just that I have a meeting down in town with my agent coming up...

Monday, June 04, 2007

glummer holiday

I'm most terribly sorry for not having posted anything for a week but it has of course been half term and I thought I should try and spend some time with the children, otherwise I'd have nothing to write about on the blog. The holiday has been a bit of a disappontment though. One day we drove down to London to go to the cinema. The local northern cinema hasn't quite got the latest releases yet in fact I think their main feature last week was the The Great Dictator. Besides being in black and white, I hardly think a film about some unelected leader giving himself draconian powers is relevant to us today and trying to concentrate on a film whilst some chap sits under the screen playing with his massive organ is hardly an experience to take you away from real life for a couple of hours is it. My husband had reassured me that the film we were going to watch would really help me relax so we sat there eagerly awaiting inner peace and contentment and flexible joints. My husband hurriedly checked the tickets when about four hours of people swinging from yard arms and walking planks began. It seemed that Pilates in the Carribean had been an unfortunate misprint in the listings. I'll Just have to buy the DVD I suppose. If I wanted to spend the afternoon with a whole bunch of people swinging I need only have gone to the next village. Not only would I save a tenner on the ticket price but I'd get a G&T as well. Anyway, best not mention that whole subject as my agent might send me on one of his spend a token day doing some local activity to make it look like you're blending in whilst getting some good copy for the book days and there's some sacrifices I won't make for my art, although that G&T does sound sound attractive, sigh. Anyway, now it's all over, the children are back at school, my husband is back in London, and all I'm left with is the memory of a few hours spent with a man with a penchant for heavy eye makeup, well, and Johnny Depp too, sigh.