Friday 30 April 2010

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #116 Online Friend

Jamie needed someone to talk to, he was lonely.

At school they all called him a Geek.

He was fascinated with his new online friend.

They enjoyed the same things - stamp collecting, reading, computer games.

They arranged to meet at McDonalds.

"He didn't say, in the chatroom, that he was an old man" thought Jamie.

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 28 April 2010


You may have noticed I didn't visit you over the weekend, I was really busy on Saturday looking after the grandchildren and then on Sunday MWM and I decided to have a ride on the East Lancs Railway to Bury for lunch.   As we came out of the station we were surprised to see lots of police about and lots of people lining the roads nearby.    We went into a nearby hostelry for lunch and asked the people who were in there what was going on, to be told there was going to be a marchpast for Gallipoli Sunday, of course it was 25th April, what a bonus.

Wellington (Bury) Barracks, home of the Lancashire Fusiliers is nearby, which is where the forces, past and present, were congregating ready for the marchpast.  At the main landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, six Victoria Crosses were awarded to 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. This is sometimes referred to as 'the six VCs before breakfast'.

The landing in Gallipoli (at the infamous Helles landing) involved a brigade from the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division that had four territorial battalions from the regiment. The landings also involved the 1st Battalion.

A service of commemoration has been held in the regimental town, Bury in Lancashire every Gallipoli Sunday, the nearest Sunday to 25 April, since 1916. It has recently been decided that this commemoration will continue despite the death of the last survivor of the Lancashire Fusiliers who was present at Gallipoli. The Lancashire Fusiliers are now part of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, consequently the cap Hackles have changed colour from yellow to red and white.

Thankfully I had put the camera in my handbag and MWM was able to get some photographs, whilst I applauded the veterans, serving personnel and cadets that were marching.     I thought you may like  to see them.

God Bless them.

Monday 26 April 2010

The Times - Letter of the Year......

You know I'm not afraid to write letters to anyone if I feel strongly enough about a matter and I think I'm not bad at it, but I am in awe of the elderly (98 years young!!) lady who wrote this letter to her bank. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in The Times.
Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three 'nanoseconds' must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my Pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account £30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.   I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, re-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.  From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan payments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate...Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope.

Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Solicitor, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.  In due course, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

1 To make an appointment to see me.
2 To query a missing payment.
3 To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
4 To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5 To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
6 To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7 To leave a message on my computer (a password to access my computer is required. A password will be communicated to you at a later date to the Authorized Contact.)
8 To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 8
9 To make a general complaint or inquiry, the contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.Whilst this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous, New Year.

Your Humble Client

Friday 23 April 2010

Friday 55 Flash Fiction # 115 Rubbish....

Stacey was clearing the loft.

A bird cage, the nest of tables, a light fitting,

battered old suitcase, old shoes, clothes, a tea set.

Mick would be so pleased she'd thrown everything out.


"I've got the stash tucked away in the loft in a battered old suitcase" Mick told the rest of the gang....

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Thursday 22 April 2010

David Cameron's reply........

Ok here's the reply I received from David Cameron's office (Conservatives) to the letter I sent to him at the same time as I wrote to Gordon Brown.      It isn't just a copy and paste from his party's manifesto like I got from the Labour party office, it is a sensible reply to the issues I raised in my letter.   


Saturday, 17th April 2010

Dear Mrs N.........

I am writing on behalf of David Cameron to thank you for your letter of 11th April 2010.

We are grateful to you for taking the time and trouble to get in touch and for including the attached newspaper clippings, which have been carefully noted. Although it is obviously difficult to comment on someone's individual situation, we certainly understand your concern about reports of this kind.

We believe in a fair and equitable system for everyone and at the moment, Britain is facing a massive jobs crisis, with almost 2.5 million people unemployed, another 2.6 million people on Incapacity Benefit, and one in five young people unable to find a job. In order to meet this challenge we have published our plan to Get Britain Working, including a comprehensive programme of welfare reform designed to tackle the jobs crisis and break the cycle of long term benefit dependency that has grown under this Government.

On the issue of pensions, those who have contributed to our nation over the years need to have security in their retirement and old age - it should be a time for people to look forward to, not worry about.

When Labour came to power in 1997, Britain had one of the best pension systems in Europe. Millions of people were saving prudently for their retirement. Gordon Brown betrayed them, robbing them of security in retirement through his £100 billion stealth tax raid on their pension funds. What's more, Labour's system of means-testing is an insult to the dignity of older people. Many pensioners miss out on the benefits that they are entitled to because of the complicated system Gordon Brown has put in place.

We can't go on like this. As our population grows older, we need change if we are to give people security and dignity in old age. Our approach is based on our belief in responsibility - we should encourage people to take more control over their lives.

We know how frustrated pensioners are. We know that they have been told many times before that the pension will be linked with earnings rather than prices - but this is a change a Conservative Government will make. We will restore the link between the basic state pension and average earnings to help stop the spread of means testing.

We can afford this promise because we have made the choice to raise the retirement age to 66 earlier than planned by the Government but starting no earlier than 2016 for men and 2020 for women.

In addition to this, we want to give people more choice over how they deal with their pension savings, more control over their income in retirement, and more peace of mind. A Conservative Government:

• will end the effective obligation to buy an annuity at 75;

• will introduce a new home protection scheme to help stop people having to sell theirhomes to pay for residential care. Under the new voluntary scheme people reaching retirement will have the option to pay a one-off joining fee (that we estimate will be around £8,000) in return for a guarantee that absolutely all fees for permanent residential care would be waived for life;

. will work with local councils to freeze Council Tax for two years; and

• will remove the stigma attached to Council Tax Benefit by re-naming it Council Tax Rebate.

It is also important to be clear on what we would not change. A Conservative Government

• will protect Disability Living Allowance for the over 65s and Attendance Allowance for pensioners;

. will keep the winter fuel allowance;

. will keep free TV licences for pensioners;

. won't cut the state pension;

. won't take away free bus passes for pensioners.

We believe that people deserve to look forward to retirement with confidence, not fear. Pensioners deserve security, dignity and quality of life in their old age. For that to happen, we need change, to link the basic state pension back with earnings and better encourage people to save for their retirement.

We all know that with Labour in charge our country is heading in completely the wrong direction. That is why there is a clear choice at this election between five more years of Gordon Brown's tired government making things worse, or David Cameron and the Conservatives with the energy, leadership and values to get the country moving. I hope you will feel able to join us as we seek to change our country for the better.

Thank you again for writing.

Yours sincerely,

 Ian Pendlington

 Office of the Rt. Hon David Cameron

If I get a further 'sensible' reply from Gordon Brown I will post it.   I am still waiting for a reply from Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats).

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Not good enough Mr Brown.......

I have received a reply to the letter I sent to Gordon Brown PM written by Michael Molloy from the office of the Leader of the Labour Party.    Mr. Molloy has copied facts from the Labour Party Manifesto which do nothing to address the concerns with which I wrote to the Prime Minister.   Therefore I have sent a reply to Gordon Brown.

19th April 2010

Gordon Brown PM
10 Downing Street

Dear Mr. Brown
With reference to my letter dated 11th April, to which Michael Molloy from your Labour Party office replied; the reply did not answer my question.   All Mr. Molloy did was to copy facts from your manifesto, which did nothing to reassure me on the things that concern me.

If you cannot/will not address my questions, and convince me your policies will rectify the matter I wrote about, I will not be voting Labour on 6th May 2010. You should remember that the pensioners of this country have a huge vote and are the people who are most likely take the time to actually go to the polling station, unlike people like the woman in the newspaper clipping I sent you, who is too bone idle to get out there and get a job and would rather sit at home getting drunk at my expense!

Yours sincerely,

I'll keep you posted.  I've had a reply from David Cameron's office (Conservative) which I will post tomorrow.

Monday 19 April 2010

Crackin' Cheese Grommit........

What's she on about?.... I can hear you saying.     Well I'll tell you.

Last Tuesday MWM and I went on a coach trip to Wallace and Grommit country, North Yorkshire.

We joined the 52 seater coach at 9.15 a.m. and stopped after an hour for a tea break before continuing our journey to Hawes, which is regarded as the capital of Upper Wensleydale and is said to be one of the highest market towns in England.     Known affectionately by locals as T’Haas, this vibrant market town derives its name from the old Norse word ‘hals’, meaning a mountain pass or neck.

It was lunchtime when we arrived in Hawes and the coach driver dropped us right in the centre of the pretty little town saying he would pick us up there two hours later to take us to the Wensleydale Creamery.   Conveniently he dropped us right outside The Crown pub which offered a varied menu, so that's where we had lunch, washed down with a pint of Theakston's Old Peculiar.

After lunch we decided to explore the main street and the market stalls which abounded, as it just happened to be market day.

There were lots of market stalls and interesting shops in Hawes, in particular we found a little Rock and Gem shop where I purchased this beautiful soapstone elephant to add to my collection.

When we'd set off from home the weather had been warm and sunny and I had dressed appropriately in a t-shirt and a light mac, unfortunately the sun deserted us and a biting wind had sprung up and I was freezing, so of course we had to take shelter in another of the many pubs in Hawes - The Old Board Inn.   What do you mean any excuse???

See me in the bottom left hand corner?    I look cold don't I?     MWM went to the bar and got us another pint of Old Peculiar which we enjoyed in the warm atmosphere of the country pub, before it was time to get back on the coach for the five minute journey to the Wensleydale Creamery.

On arrival at the creamery our driver took us into the Creamery's museum for a demonstration of cheesemaking by hand.  

One of the cheesemakers (blessed are the cheesemakers) brought in a bucket containing a gallon of warm milk to which he added starter and rennet.   He told us that in the old days the rennet was obtained from calf's stomachs and was also made by boiling slugs and snails then using the liquid  (YUK) but now they used a fungi.   He left us to watch a ten minute video about the mechanised cheese making process and when the video finished he showed us how the milk had reacted by becoming jelly-like.  He then proceeded to chop it and drained off the whey leaving the curds, which he squeezed and pressed until it was dry enough to press into a 500g container.    He extracted the cheese from the container and wrapped it in muslin and put a Wallace and Grommit label on it.

After the demonstration we were able to walk though the small museum, where there was lots of old cheesemaking equipment.

Then we got to the best bit of the visit - the cheese-tasting!      We went into the Creamery shop where all their cheeses were ready for us to sample and buy, yummy.   

We bought some Wensleydale Blue, Wensleydale with Cranberry and some Sheep's Milk Cheese which is just wondefully creamy.   We also bought some onion relish, homemade biscuits and some chocolate covered YORKSHIRE SHEEP POO, which is in fact chocolate covered raisins which the grandchildren will find it very amusing.


We just had time for a drink in the Creamery restaurant/bar before it was time to get back on the coach for the journey home through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.

I hope you enjoyed our trip to Wallace and Grommit country.

Friday 16 April 2010

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #114 Poor....

Isaac was desperate, he had bills.

He'd sold most of his possessions, only his father's gold watch remained.

The antique dealer offered him £3000, it was a rare piece.

"No", he couldn't part with it.

They never found Isaac's killer.

Why would anyone want to hurt a defenceless old man with no money people asked.

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Tell me Mr Brown.....

Alky girl’s £8k benefits binges

HARD-drinker Hayley Nash has more than doubled her benefits to £8,000 a year - by being signed off sick as alcoholic.

Twin Charlotte is also set to sting the State - as she registers as her sister's CARER.

Hayley, 20, started boozing aged 12 and sinks 12 cans of lager and a litre of vodka a day.
She's been warned she'll die if she does not stop.

Hayley gets £316 a month income support. On top of that, she's paid £350 disability allowance. The annual total is £7,992.

She gives mum Wanda, 56, a bit as keep, but the rest goes on booze.
Hayley, who's never worked, was diagnosed alcoholic at 14.
She and her sister live with Wanda in Walsall, West Mids.
Charlotte, who'll get at least £50 a week, said: "Hayley is the most important person in my life. I don't want to lose her, that's why I don't mind becoming her carer."

The above newspaper story prompted me to write to the
Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
I'll let you know if I get a reply.

11th April 2010

Gordon Brown PM
10 Downing Street

Dear Mr. Brown

With the forthcoming election I thought I would give you the chance to explain why as a pensioner I should vote Labour, when your party’s treatment of pensioners is diabolical.

I would like you to explain why a 20 year old alcoholic is in receipt of benefits totalling £7,992 per annum (see enclosed newspaper cutting), whilst I, after 40+ years of working and paying into the system, will receive only £7,034, which includes the paltry £2+ weekly rise? I retired, aged 60, in December 2009 and that figure is the total sum of my state pension including SERPS. This is my only income and I have just received my notice of coding for the tax year 2010/2011, which informs me that I will have to pay tax on £559 of my pension, amounting to approx £100. That's £2 a week - the equivalent of my pension rise! A member of the Labour party had the cheek this week to say that the Conservatives would give with one hand and take back with the other! A prime example of the pot calling the kettle black!

How can this be fair? The woman in the newspaper article has probably never done a stroke of work in her life, so will not have contributed anything in the way of tax and insurance, but because she's a drunk the state is paying her more than a pensioner and she will not have to pay tax on her benefits.

I intend writing to all the party leaders asking what their policy is regarding this unfairness, before I decide for whom to vote. I expect a reply from you before the 6th May convincing me you will rectify this matter if you want me to vote Labour.

Yours sincerely,

This country is a bloody joke!

Monday 12 April 2010

Yeah, right...........

I was sent an email recently with the following text:

This is an actual extract from a sex education school textbook for girls, printed in the early 60’s in the UK and explains why the world was much happier and peaceful then…..!

“When retiring to the bedroom, prepare yourself for bed as promptly as possible. Whilst feminine hygiene is of the utmost importance, your tired husband does not want to queue for the bathroom, as he would have to do for his train. But remember to look your best when going to bed. Try to achieve a look that is welcoming without being obvious. If you need to apply face-cream or hair-rollers wait until he is asleep as this can be shocking to a man last thing at night. When it comes to the possibility of intimate relations with your husband, it is important to remember your marriage vows and in particular your commitment to obey him.

If he feels that he needs to sleep immediately then so be it. In all things be led by your husband’s wishes; do not pressure him in any way to stimulate intimacy. Should your husband suggest congress then agree humbly all the while being mindful that a man’s satisfaction is more important than a woman’s. When he reaches his moment of fulfilment a small moan from yourself is encouraging to him and quite sufficient to indicate any enjoyment that you may have had.


Should your husband suggest any of the more unusual practices be obedient and uncomplaining but register any reluctance by remaining silent. It is likely that your husband will then fall promptly asleep so adjust your clothing, freshen up and apply your night-time face and hair care products.


You may then set the alarm so that you can arise shortly before him in the morning. This will enable you to have his morning cup of tea ready when he awakes.

Come on, I lived through the 60's, this is more like 1900 isn't it?   Thoughts anyone?

Friday 9 April 2010

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #113 Locked Away...

The boy was scared

The cupboard door was tight shut, he couldn't get out.

Sitting in the dark, wishing he'd done as he he'd been told,

He heard his father approaching.

The door opened.

"I know, I shouldn't have been searching for my present, then I wouldn't have locked myself in"
he told his father.

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Helpful tips.......

Some of you may know of and read Vent, my good friend Ron's blog.  What you may not know is that he has another blog called Moi Review Blog where he showcases a wide variety of beauty products, which he can recommend because of his 26 years of experience working in the beauty industry.  Ron's reviews include: make-up, skin care, body care, hair care, fragrances, fashion accessories, and more.   Ron has had a wide variety of occupations including: theater, writing, make-up artistry, cosmetology, natural healing modalities, and retail management.  At the moment he's working part-time in the beauty industry.

Lately I persuaded him to open his comments on Moi Review Blog and he has agreed to give advice along with his helpful tips.    Ron does this purely to pass on his wealth of knowledge.

So, if you have a beauty problem and you want to know what product will solve it - go to Moi Review Blog and ask the expert - Ron!

Monday 5 April 2010

The Middle Wife.......

I received this email - The Middle Wife' by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher and just knew you'd all like to see it.

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell.. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place anyboundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. 'This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.'

'First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.'

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

'Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. 'She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!' (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

'My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.' (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

'And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!' (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

'Then the middle wife starts saying 'push, push,' and 'breathe, breathe. They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom's play-center, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there.'

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest.. Ever since then, when it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another 'Middle Wife' comes along.

Friday 2 April 2010

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #112 Dream Life...

She was on her way to England.

At last she would have the life she had always dreamed of.

Suddenly she felt ill - sick, sweating, head swimming, blurred vision.

"Are you alright madam?" asked the stewardess.

"Why do they do it?" wondered the coroner.

"Being a mule for the drug barons is just too dangerous!"

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.