<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> JANEY GODLEY - Scottish actress, comedienne, author, playwright & journalist

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Janey's Blogs - September 2007

Saturday the 1st of September 2007
01:23:40 AM

Age got me…

I never thought I would be old enough to buy a face cream for wrinkles…and today I did just that.
It sort of crept up on me without me knowing, did age.
 
It sneaked in during the night one dark winter and slipped into my left knee and sustained it creaky. One sunny day as I squinted at the sun, it sat slippery on my eyelids and left them saggy.

On an ordinary Wednesday it visited me quietly in between a cup of tea and cake and wrapped its evil self around my tummy and made it bloated. It walked up to me one day and pulled my face downwards and walked off without even a word of hello.

Age is a disdainful friend; it never comes when you want it.
 
Where was it when I was desperate to get into a bar in 1978 when I was 17 years old?

Also I needed age to come by when a drug addict challenged me to fight when I owned a bar in 1984; I could have done with a few years on me as the junkie tried to throw a knife at my head. Age could have helped along with its twin sister ‘wisdom’.

Had I been older I wouldn’t have jumped the bar and tried to get the knife off him.

I wouldn’t have a wee scar on my arm, if age and wisdom stopped by for a chat that day.

I don’t need age or wisdom now that I am old.
 
I am still 20 years old inside and age knows this - yet fights me every day for the struggle over control of my skin and bones.

I really still expect the young guy who sits outside the local bar to check my ass out as I walk past. How dare age take this small pleasure away from me?

I loved wearing a short skirt and showing off my shapely legs in my 20s. Now I know age mocks me and highlights the bumpy bits on my shin; that’s age making sure I know it's there. it hates being ignored.
 
Now young men look at me and wonder if I have a hot daughter; they silently check their mobile phones and decide to call their mothers as I have reminded them that mums should never be forgotten.
 
“Do I look sexy to you?” I asked my husband.

“Always, Janey,” he smiled with crinkled eyes.
 
His short brown hair that is flecked with grey reminded me that he, too, had got bitten by age.

Where was the 16 year old skinny boy that used to stay awake and plan out our escape from the families that held us down? The small town life that made me ache to travel and see places I had read about in my school atlas. We were going to see the world.
 
We would sit up naked in that filthy single bed that was covered in nylon sheets.
 
Those hideous sheets made us sweat more than ever and we would just devour each other till the sun finally peeked through the cheap thin curtains on the dirty windows of the East End flat we shared.

Grimy marks on the scummy windows made obscure reflections on the wall opposite from the light outside and we would lie there, stuck to each other, and point out what the shapes meant to us.

I once saw an outline that resembled the face of Lee Marvin; my husband thought it looked like President Kennedy; I told him he thought that because he was a Catholic.

We laughed for ages, he jumped up naked and rubbed the stain on the glass and it then looked like a cinnamon bun.

We swore we would never kiss or look at another human being till we died.
 
We had age at bay in those days; age never dared to show its jealous face back then; it was away making paper out of the skin of the elderly neighbours. It was too busy to bother with us.
 
I would look at my mother and her friends back then, women in their early 40s, with bare mottled legs, wearing their husband's cheap chequered socks on their feet that were stuffed into slippers as they stood hanging out washing on the line.
 
The smell of hot fat that sizzled away at the cheap meat cuts in a frying pan wafting out of their small kitchenette windows made me feel sick and I knew I would never be them.

I smirked at their lack of ambition, made snide remarks about their dull, drab lives and swore I would be well dressed with shiny hair till I died. I will never be one of them.
 
Age caught me being nasty and got me right between the eyes; it watched me from afar and waited for me; it sniggered at my naivety and jumped me like a rapist in the night; it got me hard when I least expected it.

My dark hair started growing in white; my skin lost its bounce and my eyes grew dull.
 
Age roared upon me like a funeral sheet that is slowly dragged up a corpse - first the feet, then the knees, then the torso and finally it covered my face. It got me. It wrapped itself around me like a hug from a dirty man who has the audacity to touch you and just when you think he will let go, he holds fast.
 
I am old. I am 46 years old.
 
I won’t wear my husband’s socks, I will never fry cheap cuts, but I have the wrinkles and the marks of a woman who has lived long enough to know that age is never a friend - it’s neither an enemy. It’s just there to remind me I lived. I had a life.


Sunday the 2nd of September 2007
09:25:43 PM

Cats I loved

My niece Ann Margaret has a cat called Squeak. Apparently it’s her daughter Abi’s cat, but we are not sure. What I am sure of is, the cat has a personality disorder.

It goes to its litter tray, does a wee shit and then, instead of scratching the litter over the shit, it turns around and scratches at the wall.
 
It completely ignores the smelly wee shit and stands for at least three minutes making eye contact with me, challenging me to look away or comment and paws at the wall. I got fed up with this madness; I jumped down, grabbed its paw firmly and made scratching movements that covered the litter over the shit with its reluctant leg.
 
It struggled and meowed, then bit me. Then it turned around and hopped into the litter tray and determinedly squeezed out another wee shit, it stared at me again and scratched at the wall in defiance.
 
The wall is all scraped, the shit is uncovered and it merely sniffed at me, spat in my direction and padded out of the room.

Four year old Abi came through. She said to me: “Stop making Squeak angry. He just bit me and that’s because you are here. He hates you. He doesn’t like touching his own poo….Would you?”
 
She is right. I wouldn’t like touching my own poo. But I am not a cat - It is supposed to cover its own poo up.
 
I once had a cat called Twinkles who was the complete opposite; he would shit, then stand for about 40 minutes and completely scoop ALL the litter and the shit out of his box and spread it all over my hallway. We would lie in bed and in the middle of the night all you could hear was this “Sshh, sshhh, sshhh, sshh” noise for fucking hours as he stood there dementedly, doggedly scooping out the litter box.
 
You would think he was trying to dig to Australia the way he went about his business. I am sure he had OCD, if I screamed at him he would stop momentarily with a paw poised in mid air, then immediately went back to flicking the litter and shit all over my floor. He was like a cat possessed; my hall way resembled a scabby beach, all grit and small bits of shit over it. It took ages to clean it up and he sat watching me doing it every time.

Maybe he liked the sound of the Hoover? I am not sure.
 
Once he had managed to empty the tray, he looked at the mess all over the floor and then sat happily licking his own arse and wiping his face, congratulating himself on a job well done. This was EVERY shit and piss.
 
So I constructed a box with high sides and a roof.

I watched as he went in for his daily piss and scatter routine. It drove him crazy. The poor fucker was in there for ages and I could hear him scratch and flick those wee gritty stones up against the sides of that box for ages. He came out covered in white flecks, like he had been to a cat wedding and was covered in confetti…he was totally confused.
 
Finally he would stand at the entrance and try to scoop all the litter out through his front legs into his hind quarters, but it never worked. He stalked around the box and you could see he was trying to work a way of getting all the grit out of the box.

He never did manage it and finally gave up his cat OCD-ness and took to licking the lampshade in my bedroom and that eventually fell apart due to the sheer amount of cat saliva it had soaked up.
 
Then Twinkles moved on to having a deeply sexual relationship with the velvet armchair in my sitting room. It was embarrassing to watch.
 
He just seemed to pass one obsession up for another; and then he completely surprised me by going missing one night. He never left the house in his life and it scared me, but even more surprising was the night he gave birth to three kittens and made me realise he was a SHE.

I should have known I suppose.
 
Twinkles eventually got adopted out when my daughter Ashley was born, because the cat decided that Ashley’s crib and preferably her tummy was the perfect place to piss on nightly. I loved her, but had to stop her from trying to piss on the baby constantly.
 
I am sure she had fun wherever she went and miss her to this day, though my Hoover doesn’t. Her OCD behaviour broke three Hoovers in six years with the sheer amount of litter that passed through its pipes.


Monday the 3rd of September 2007
11:05:47 PM

The Poof, the fluffy dog and Ella…

Many years ago I used to hang out in a wee Italian café in Shettleston where I was born.

It’s a small place Shettleston; it’s the kind of place where if a full moon gets reflected in the local pond, people throw in dead cats to see if they will be resurrected in its magical waters.
 
I am exaggerating; it’s not that mental. But the locals were ‘special’ in some ways.
 
This café I want to tell you about was a small affair and was owned by an Italian family called the Matteos.

There were two middle aged sisters, one called Anna and the other called Ella.

Anna wore a tall white pompadour curly wig which sat tall on her head like one of those profiterole towers often fashionable at cheap weddings.

Ella wore a tall dark one in much the same unusual style. Both were pencil thin and wore heavy black eye make up and a big dark beauty spot stabbed on their top lip. Both in skin tight leopard skin clothing. Ella also owned a wee ginger lap dog called Tootsie.
 
I knew Ella more than Anna, as she ran the café with her side kick Terry the Poof and the wee dog.

In Glasgow you are usually named after your character; for instance, there was also a man called ‘Bobby the Kiddie Fiddler’ because he was a paedophile.
 
Strangely no one called her ‘Ella the Black Wiggy woman’, but I suppose being gay ear-marked Terry out for his unique name.
 
Terry was also middle aged and lived in a caravan out at the back of the café where a collection of unseen dogs that barked often were tied to a fence post.
 
He had a face that sagged around the eyes as he had been beaten too often and the black eyes that had just faded eventually sat like deflated poached eggs on his weather beaten cheeks.

He drank too much booze as well: he would often drag a half bottle of whisky out of his back pocket and take a slug of it between serving up soggy chips and black-edged, crispy-looking fried eggs.
 
He wore skin tight black jeans, a baggy bright shirt on his scrawny frame and always had a bright pink chiffon scarf tied around his neck in a big fancy bow.

It was the kind of fashion statement that made drunk and angry men hit him often and I admired his tenacity and the sheer force of will that made him continue to wear it in the face of fear and aggression.
 
Shettleston was not ready for a man who wore a pink pussy-cat bow-tied scarf and flaunted his love of music by camping around dancing and often stood with his hand on one hip.

On his head he wore a tight black beret at a jaunty angle.
 
He usually had a black eye that was in several shades of fading; the colours ranged from a deep scuddy purple to a pale yellowish green. It somehow suited him.
 
I was seventeen. I shared his love of music and the café had a great juke box. It was at the height of the ‘Grease’ and ‘Saturday Night Fever’ era and the songs of both top box office films would blare out of that old 10-pence-a-song, silver-coloured juke box.

Terry and I would dance. The dogs out back would bark and Ella would scream for more chips.
 
The café seating area was based around a corner shape with a few boxed-in Formica bench seats that you slid into with fixed Formica yellow tables with aluminium trim.
 
In the window there was a big ‘Terry’s All Gold Chocolate’ advertisement display made of cardboard that pulled out into a two dimensional image that looked like a big balcony overlooking some Mediterranean lake.

It was dreamy and exotic to me; the cardboard image was of a young, beautiful couple dressed in elegant evening wear. They stood on the white stucco balcony and looked out at the still blue water and I often stared at it and wondered if I would ever find such a well dressed man in a dickie bow who would give me chocolates beside a moonlit lake.
 
Terry would watch me stare at it; he would scoot in beside me, cross his skinny legs and ask, “Isn’t that scene gorgeous? I want to go there too, where do you think it is?”
 
I would shake my head and imagine myself in a big blue dress looking over the calm waters with a sexy man at my side. “How deep is your love” the Bee Gees played in the background and I was whisked away in my imagination again.
 
I would often joke with Terry and ask him if he was the chocolate man in the advert of the same name and he would laugh back at me: “Yes, I am the chocolate man, I melt when you hold me tight,” and then he would twirl around as he held aloft a plate of greasy chips and then bend elegantly and kiss the cardboard man in the dickie bow and evening suit. I would giggle and clap my hands.
 
Ella would scream at the top of her voice and tell me to stop encouraging him.
 
The heart of the café lay with Ella’s wee dog Tootsie.
 
It was a tiny pom-pom orange dog, I don’t know the breed, but it was strange looking.

It had a reddish coat like a fluffy squirrel’s with a wee pointy blackish face and tiny wee skinny sleek ginger legs that peeked out of the fluffy body.

It yapped constantly and bit everyone it came within six inches of.

It was small enough to be the size of a handbag.

The wondrous and bizarre thing about the evil ginger fluff ball was….it often had a heart attack.
 
Now I don’t know if it was actually a heart attack, but it would yap furiously and then fall on its back, like the biggest drama queen alive, then it would gasp and Ella would scream.
 
She would physically throw the hot chips and runny eggs at the wall, run around hysterically, Terry would flap his hands and scream like a banshee as his scarf got entangled in his face and Ella would demand anyone that was present to press on the chest of the wee upturned dog till it came back to life.
 
That role often fell to me, I would jump up…as if I had been trained in dog CPR, and then grab the orange smelly beast, clear the Formica table with my hand like you see professional doctors do in preparation for an emergency operation.

The dog would be put on the table, I would press onto its wee tufty orange haired chest a few times and then it would leap onto its scrawny legs and bite me, every time.
 
Terry and Ella would be running into the street screaming around each other as passers by would gawp at them, realise the dog was having an ‘attack’ and carry on as normal.

Customers would sit and wait till the drama passed and Ella would not come back in till the dog was standing at the door yapping again; she would scoop it up and kiss its horrible wee mouth as Terry stroked it and whispered soft soothing words.
 
Then the café would get back to normal.         
 
One time, when I was being Janey the Dog Doctor, a young tall boy who worked in the bar across the road from the café came in and watched me perform on the beast and quietly said to me: “That dog pretends to die every day; you do know that don’t you?”

“Yes I know, but it scares Ella”

I could feel him smiling at me as I kept my eyes down on the dog, which was now back on its feet.

Its attack was not as life threatening that day; I think the young guy’s honesty shamed the wee animal.
 
He laughed and said: “Her and Terry are a couple of fucking drama queens - they love the attention”
 
I stared at him angrily; his deep brown eyes held my stare.
 
I snapped back: “Some people need a wee drama to get through the day”.
 
He shrugged and walked away.          
 
He left, slamming the door behind him, and it shook the fancy cardboard display that fell from its position and landed flat on the floor.

The Mediterranean was upside down and the happy couple landed in some cola that was spilt on the floor. I gasped at the sight of it – it was all collapsed and distorted looking.

Terry rushed to pick it up; he looked at me and wiped it down with a wee cloth and then he carefully put it back up at the window.
 
 “All good, Janey; nothing damaged.” He spoke softly. “The happy couple are fine.”

Terry looked at me and patted the cardboard man on the head and came over to see how Tootsie was recovering.
 
“That boy fancies you,” Terry said as the dog jumped back up and vicously bit my arm.

“I don’t like him; he is a dick,” I snapped as I sucked at the bruise on my wrist.
 
Terry smiled and winked at me.
 
I wonder what happened to Terry, Ella and Tootsie; I hope they lived happily ever after.

And that tall boy who came into the cafe?

Well, Terry was right. He did fancy me and we married three years after that meeting. To think we met over a dog that pretended to be dead in a café where a gay man with a bruised eye and jaunty cap worked with a woman in huge black wig.


Friday the 7th of September 2007
11:55:21 AM

The Lake District

Husband and I took a short break down to the beautiful Lake District. The weather was awesome and so amazing. The place is so startlingly lovely.

The rolling hills that line the stunning lake make a great backdrop to Bowness in the Lake District.
 
The downside is that Beatrix Potter lived there and, after the success of the movie Miss Potter, the place is awash with the biggest amount of Japanese tourists you have ever seen in the UK in one small town. Japanese people LOVE Beatrix Potter more than you can imagine.

Now, before you jump on the content of that statement and declare it racist hear me out.
 
I am not averse to Japanese people or any tourists whatever their nationality but squillions and squillions of them in swarms trying to walk in groups through the tiny wee winding crooked lanes of this teensy wee town is really hard to cope with, especially with the sheer amount of traffic that trundles through the place.
 
I was almost knocked down twice trying to walk around groups of Japanese people who didn’t think to walk in single lines along skinny pavements that lined the major road through Bowness in the Lake District. It was scary.
 
Portraits of Jemima Puddleduck and her friends in a shop window made huddles of tourists scream in the street and stop to take umpteen photos of them. How bizarre is that?
 
After the dodgy walk through the town, we decided to stay over for the night and we found a lovely hotel with big views across the water. We both sat there and took in the amazing panoramic sight in front of us. We eventually went down to the hotel swimming pool and had a wee swim around.

After I went down under the warm water, my ear popped and I came up to the surface DEAF in my left ear!

My left ear had managed to compact all the wax it makes and jam itself into the ear drum. I could hear nothing but an echo inside my head and it was infuriating.
 
So today I got a doc's appointment and got my ear syringed. It's where they squirt warm water deep into your ear canal at a fast rate, then the wax comes gushing out with the water.

The whole experience isn’t uncomfortable at all...in fact it’s quite…erotic in a way. I am sure there is a G Spot inside my ear and as the water gushes around it, it was quite sexy and nice in an odd way! I may get addicted to it.
 
Now my health complaints have increased - I have discovered that I have a lump the size of a small pea on my wrist. It’s called a ganglion or something like that.

Ashley called it a porpoise as she forgot the word ganglion and told my dad I have a porpoise on my hand - and the doc told me I have to have it cut out.
 
So now I have to arrange surgery. Whoopee…I am falling apart slowly.


Monday the 10th of September 2007
01:17:28 AM

Old Dogs & Comedy

On Saturday husband and I drove through Anstruther; it’s a small fishing village in Fife, home to the UK’s best fish and chip shop and near enough to St Andrews for us to seek accommodation for the night when I was playing the Byre Theatre.
 
We decided to stop when I saw a sign saying ‘Hotel’.

It was a bar that had self catering apartments attached.

I walked into the pub and there was a wee skinny young woman called Kelly, who told me she was in charge. “Do you have flats for one night?” I asked.

“Aye, we do,” she answered.

“Can you show me the room?” I asked her.

She had thin greasy blonde hair, looked tired and pulled out some keys and told me to follow her.
 
She opened a door which revealed a disabled bathroom in front of us and two rooms either side. In the wee hallway stood a wee greying dog; it had white eyebrows, a white tufty beard and a milky eye. It whined constantly and limped about.
 
“What’s the dog called?” I asked, secretly wondering if we had to stay with an aged, crippled dog. Did it come with the room?
 
“Erm…I am not sure - I call it Skippy,” Kelly said.
 
I looked at the dog and thought to myself: That dog hasn’t skipped since 1978.
 
“There is one problem," Kelly told me. "The disabled toilet here belongs to the bar and so, if someone comes in on a wheelchair, we have to bring them through here to use the loo.”

The dog whined and limped more behind us.
 
“So," I asked incredulously. "at anytime, you may be in here, in the flat where I am staying, with some poor disabled person who needs the toilet?”
 
“Don’t worry, you will have plenty warning,” Kelly assured me.
 
“People in wheelchairs don’t often have much warning when they need to pee,” I added.
 
The dog stared at me and whined again.
 
“What is wrong with that dog?” I asked as I had a quick look in the 1970s-styled living area, all cream plastic sofas, nylon carpets and cheap wood fire surrounds.
 
“Its owner died last week,” said Kelly as she carried on showing me how to work a microwave oven, which I suspect was new technology to her and the locals in Anstruther.
 
“Look, I am sorry, I don’t want to stay here, but thanks,” I smiled and went to leave. Husband had just arrived as he had been parking the car; he took one look around and shook his head at the room.

Then the dog huddled at my feet and tried to sleep on my flip flopped feet.

Husband looked at the old grizzled dog and raised an eyebrow in question at the whole scene.
 
“OK, then,” Kelly said and started to walk out the door.

I tried to follow, but the dog started walking with me laboriously and I felt compelled to walk slowly to let it keep up.
 
Husband and I got outside and I opened the car door to get in and the wee greying dog hobbled at my side and tried to climb into the car.

I looked at its one clear eye, its wee bearded face and wiry coat and felt sorry for it; I leaned down to stroke it and heard Kelly say:  “Excuse me, do you want to keep the dog?”

Husband made a huffing sneering noise and I looked at the dog, then at Kelly and said: “Tempting, but actually…no…I don’t think it has long to live.” I tried to shut the car door and heard her shout:
 
“It really likes you and its owner died and it’s really sad; you should take it Mrs,” she pleaded.
 
Husband leaned over, gently pushed the wee dog out of the car entry and slammed the door; he revved the engine and drove off. The wee dog stood on the pavement as I watched it disappear in the car mirror.
 
“We are not collecting old, nearly-dead dogs, Janey,” he shouted as I pleaded for him to go back and keep the old dog.
 
We spotted another B&B place.

“You go check. I will go park the car,” husband muttered.
 
I stood at the glass door and knocked lightly. I really did want to stay over so I could get a shower and go do my show in St Andrews that night.
 
I heard loud violent barking; a shape through the mottled glass door looked like it was coming down a flight of stairs; it sounded like a mental dog…again.
 
An elderly woman with the bluest eye shadow I have ever seen opened the door at a peep as a big black dog popped its head round to bark and growl at me.
 
“That’s Shelia: he is really a pet of a dog. He was beaten so badly as a pup,” she said as I tried to get the dog away from my leg; it was snapping at me.
 
Shelia, I thought…an unusual name for a male animal and, as far as being beaten, it almost bit my thigh. It may need another punch to the head I thought to myself.
 
“Do you have a room for the night?” I asked, convinced I could now play the part of Joseph in any contemporary Nativity Play to the full effect.
 
“Yes, but the dog doesn’t like you so I am not sure if it will work out,” she said without any sarcasm. Her blue pasted eyelids scared me and her incredibly black eyebrows were drawn way up higher than her natural ones should be, giving her the look of a very surprised transsexual.
 
“The dog up the at the hotel near the shop liked me so much the owner almost gave her to me. I am good with dogs.” I tried to convince scary eye woman to let me stay.
 
“She likes anyone that dog; her owner died and she is looking for a new home; she would stay with a dog killer,” she sneered at me.
 
“OK, can we stop talking about dogs and tell me if you have a room for the night?” I butted in.
 
“No,” said the crazy woman and she slammed the door. The dog barked through the glass and I heard the mad lady say: “Don’t worry, Shelia, I didn’t like her either.”
 
Husband laughed at the story and convinced me to sit on the harbour and he would go get us fish and chips from the famous chip shop. The queue was fifty deep at the front, as people from all over come to buy their fish and chips there. The place has won all sorts of awards for its tasty deep fried goods.
 
I sat on the warm stones, took in the late summer sun and wondered where we were going to stay.
 
I came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t get a place to stay, we might get a dog but no room, so I would head to the Byre Theatre in St Andrew’s have a shower, do the show and head for home.
 
Husband waited an hour to get the fish and chips and YES it was worth waiting for, so yummy and delicious, so crispy with thick fluffy fresh fish and chunky fat chips.

We sat happily at the waterfront, boats bobbing in the sparkling water, the ancient stones on the harbour wall holding their heat for our fat chip-eating bums to rest on.
 
We arrived at the Byre Theatre in plenty time. The place is so wonderful. I had a great shower in my dressing room, fresh towels and a fully stocked green room to have a good cup of tea and a sit down before the show started.
 
The theatre was almost full when I stepped out at 8pm. I love comedy. I love being onstage…I did 1 hour 25 minutes and that was good value for money for an hour show!
 
The audience gave me a really good cheer at the end and I walked out front and thanked them for coming along, I love meeting people after the show.
 
Some people brought along my autobiography for me to sign.

Luckily no one brought along a dog for me to keep.
 
I wonder what happened to wee old Skippy and who knows how that crazy eye shadow lady gets guests based on her dog’s dysfunctional personality, but what a great day!


Tuesday the 11th of September 2007
02:53:58 PM

Middle Class Hypocrisy

The latest news in the Team McCann story is gripping the UK.

You will probably know the story about Madeleine McCann.
 
Madeleine went missing from her holiday flat in Portugal on May 3rd when her parents left her and her two younger siblings alone as they had a dinner date across at the tapas restaurant 50 yards from their bedroom.
 
Madeleine has never been found since that fateful night.
 
The parents Gerry and Kate have had an audience with the Pope, they had millions of pounds in a fund to help find her, they have had major TV and media stars pledge support to their cause, they had MPs in the UK come out wearing yellow ribbons to remind people of the missing child. Madeleine’s father even spoke about child safety at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. They have flown around the world in private planes and been courted by the press from all over the world.
 
Yet no one asked them why they saw fit to leave three kids under four alone in an apartment in a foreign country with no baby sitter or carer to keep a watchful eye on them.

Who leaves small babies alone in a flat? No one I know.
 
They could just as easily choke on their vomit if they were sick, fall out of bed, scream from a nightmare and wake up hysterical and possibly be sick (again), wet the bed and want Mummy…a host of things that can happen when small children are left alone…never mind intruders trying to snatch them.
 
I don’t know anyone in my family who left their kids alone in a flat and walked off to have dinner in another part of the street and I have alcoholics and drug addicts in my family. The people I am talking about may not be the best parents in the world but they don’t leave their kids alone and none of the kids have ever gone missing.
 
The UK charity the NSPCC advise parents that it’s illegal to leave kids under ten years old alone in a house and parents can be prosecuted for negligence if this occurs.
 
The McCanns left twins aged two and toddler aged three alone in an unfamiliar  room in a foreign country.
 
The McCanns are white middle class doctors, from a professional background in the UK, so no one has challenged them on their decision to leave three toddlers under four years old alone to fend for themselves as they ate tapas with friends.

It’s a class issue through and through.
 
Imagine the horror of reading about some overweight, flip-flop wearing single mum from Essex who left her three babies alone in Butlin’s as she went off to eat a burger 50 yards from the chalet and one child went missing. Pictures of the tubby woman in her white shell suit and cheap jewellery would be splattered over every tabloid that would scream:
 
“I left my babies to get a burger and my child is missing”
 
We would hang the worthless woman for sheer negligence.
 
Her crying fat face on TV begging people to help find her child would be met with derision and pain for the poor kid.

The other babies would immediately be shipped off to a foster home whilst the burger-scoffing bitch had to account for her bad parenting skills to outraged authorities.
 
There would be no outpouring of pain, no candles lit or locals supporting the woman as she held a teddy bear in grief for her missing baby.

Pop stars would not be flocking to lend supportive and heart-wrenching songs to the website of the child, politicians would shun her suggestion of a meeting, football teams would give no minute's silence for the missing child’s remembrance.
 
There would be no free flights or television chats and millionaire celebs would not offer a penny to a fund.
 
The Pope would have condemned her as an unfit parent and David Beckham would never have given her two minutes of his precious money-charged time.
 
The fat burger-muncher from the spam-sucking society would have to live the rest of her life in penance for deciding to eat alone and not caring for her kids properly. She would get what she deserved.
 
Do you honestly think the world famous author J.K Rowling would pledge money to a clumsy stupid fat woman who left her kids alone to go eat from a burger van 50 yards from a holiday flat whilst one of her kids got abducted?
 
Maybe I am wrong and society would get behind this poor uneducated woman, but it’s an odd state of affairs when questions were raised in Parliament when the infamously and achingly common Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd made racist comments on a reality TV show in the UK, yet no questions were raised when a nice middle class couple through blatant neglect and misjudgement managed to lose a child when she was left alone in a holiday flat.
 
The images of the slummy Jade Goody dominated the headlines for weeks, many media giants predicted her fall from grace and sure enough her career was over. Yet the McCanns will go home to be doctors. What does this say about us a society?
 
Still the image of slim blonde pretty mummy McCann and well dressed daddy McCann seem poignant and acceptable.
 
They only went off to eat tapas; they are doctors and come from a clean middle class house and wear nice coordinated clothes; their hair is shiny and they are devout Catholics.

How can they be judged badly?

They must be good people underneath.

They just wanted dinner and some local wine with friends; leaving their kids alone isn’t really a bad thing is it?

We have all done it ourselves haven’t we? When on holiday after working hard all year, mummy and daddy deserve a little ‘me’ time don’t they?
 
NO! They can pay for the onsite baby sitting service more easily than the burger eater.

They could easily have taken shifts on eating dinner the way millions of parents do everywhere when on holiday and babies need their bedtime.
 
Now the gears have shifted.
 
The parents of Madeleine McCann have been named as suspects in her disappearance.
 
So much has been said about the alleged evidence gathered by the Portuguese police; apparently Madeleine’s DNA has been found in the boot of the car that the McCann’s hired six weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance.
 
Team McCann is screaming that evidence has been planted; this is confusing for me, as I can’t imagine how the police can plant evidence when there is no body to gather evidence from. And why would they do such a thing?
 
The McCann’s swore blind they would not go home to the UK till Maddy was found. They are at present back in the UK after being named as suspects.
 
Their respective families are screaming to every newspaper that will listen that ‘It is an outrage to believe Gerry or Kate could kill their own child’
 
How can they know this for sure?

I don’t know if they are capable of killing their own child. I don’t know anyone capable of killing their own child but statistically it has been proven that kids are more likely to die at the hands of a family member than a stranger.
 
We have to ask ourselves why we believe the McCann are incapable of killing their child.
 
Is it because they are doctors?

Is it because they wear nice clothes?

Is it because they both have university degrees?

Is it because they don’t look like killers?
 
Or do the middle classes of the UK want to believe that the parents are innocent as they have all joined in this parading of grief from the start?
 
All those politicians who hugged them on TV, all those media stars who lent unbridled support… surely they didn’t get it wrong?

Surely all those letters of sympathy and hope they sent the McCanns will not be held up to them as reminder that good people like them can do bad things.
 
But now so many people who leapt on the Madeleine bandwagon are systematically jumping off.
 
Being middle class educated people is not a good enough reason to omit them from suspicion; the only thing that will omit them from suspicion is evidence. The crime scene from where Madeleine was taken was contaminated right from the start. The McCann family invited loads of friends and family round to the flat where the child was taken and allegedly refused to leave.
 
The casualty of this debacle is the child Madeleine. She seems to be forgotten in the whirlwind of publicity. Hopefully she will be found alive and well at some stage.
 
Now there is uproar from the trustees of the Madeleine McCann fund. The parents want some of the gifted money to hire the lawyer who defended General Pinochet to defend them.

That money that was raised to help find the child - some of it came from ordinary people across the world, some of it was gifted by the richest people in the UK…no wonder the trustees are angry.

It was never assumed to be used as legal fees to defend the very people who were supposed to protect the child in the first place.
 
Only a middle class mentality can have two doctors who leave their kids unattended on holiday, have one child go missing, get the world’s press at their feet, be horrified at any suggestion of foul play and get millions of pounds and a meeting with the Pope as a result.
 
The McCanns may prove their innocence of the accusations of killing their child, but in my eyes they will always be guilty of neglectful behaviour of leaving their kids alone in that flat.


Wednesday the 12th of September 2007
11:16:01 PM

Imagination

I think I make a good friend to my close pals.
 
Though, according to very reliable sources, I exhaust people. I talk too much and I don’t really listen.

This last bit could be true as I know that sometimes when people tell me their problems I am mentally redecorating their flat or imagining what I would do with such a cute alcove. Or I am off on an Arabian adventure.
 
It’s a problem I call attention deficit disorder. It hasn’t actually been officially diagnosed by a real doctor but it’s my excuse for being annoying when it suits me.

I can fake interest and go away to a place inside my head and run barefoot on a sandy beach.

I have been known to speak and drift away at the same time.
 
No one really notices this gift except my daughter Ashley.
 
“Mum, are you listening to me? I just told you I broke my ankle,” she said one day in the middle of a conversation about all the things that happened that day at university.
 
“You haven’t broken your ankle, you are fine,” I muttered as George Clooney kissed me on the mouth as I lay in a swinging hammock on a beach in the Bahamas.

“Yes, but I am trying to get your attention,” she moaned.
 
I can pay attention and pay lip service in the same moment.
 
But she says she can see it in my eyes; I have a ‘distant’ look when I am supposed to be focussed.
 
When I was a child I could very easily take myself out of horrible situations and completely immerse myself in another world. Handy when you are being sexually abused or watching a screaming fight between your parents; good for distraction all round.
 
I call this gift ‘Drifting’ and I love it. The sheer amount of times I have been in a drudgery of hell and transported myself to another place.

Like when Ashley was a baby and was taking at least four hours to feed on one bottle and, by the time that bottle was finished, it was the time to start her next feed again!
 
I would sit there and have conversations in my head with Charles Dickens, Voltaire or have myself walking through some Amazonian rain forest looking at all the different plant life, smelling the deep earthy wet undergrowth or be simply swimming up and down a huge open air pool. The water lapping at the sides of my arms relaxing and refreshing me with every stroke, never once leaving the room or disregarding my baby’s welfare. Drifting is a gift.

Sometimes I have had to sit through the worst of comedy nights as new acts or even established acts bored me to the utter depths of insanity and off I go…to the Great Wall of China, to tea at the Ritz, to lying on a quiet grassy headland looking out to sea, the gulls above me calling out, the water crashing off the rocks…all easily accessible in the darkest and nosiest of comedy clubs.
 
Even sexual imagery is a wonderful escape; I can be with any man in any place at any time. The amount of times I have made Brad Pitt exhausted on a train to Edinburgh is obscene. Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, has kept me well entertained on tube rides through London and 50 Cent, my favourite rapper, doesn’t mind I am 46 years old as he drags his big leather belt off his jeans and strips, dances and lays me down on his bed whilst I have been sitting through a mortgage meeting with my bank manager.
 
I call it a vivid imagination; my mates call it ignoring them; but who can tell?
 
Would you rather listen to an hour of ‘What shoes should I buy?’ or go fuck Justin Timberlake in the back of his limo as he begs you for more?
 
As Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. 


Tuesday the 18th of September 2007
01:07:35 AM

What Men Must Do

A mate called me last week and as she is single she discussed certain things a man must DO and NOT DO to be on a list of possible boyfriends. Now I thought this was awful but then I realised I too have an agenda that my man must follow. For example, I know I could never have married or given up my womb to reproduce with any man who used the word ‘Zeitgeist’ in his everyday language.
 
There are other words I have banned from coming out of my husband's mouth and I have made a list:
 
• Soporific
• Cognoscenti
• Latte double hit
• Anything that is preceded by the word ‘Uber’ like Uber-excited
• The saying ‘amongous’ like to say ‘chocolate-amongous’ as to express lots of chocolate.
 
There are also things he cannot wear or I will divorce him…for example:
 
• Wearing cuffed track suit bottoms with leather shoes and white socks.
• Acrylic tank tops with a white shirt beneath.
• Football tops of any kind EVER.
• A fake tan.
• A beanie hat.
• Leather sandals of any style.  
• Jewellery of any kind.
• A tattoo or nipple ring.
• Busy Christmas sweaters with reindeer or trees.
 
There are also sayings he cannot come out with or I will go to a beach and fake my own death. Here are a few of these examples:
 
• “Darling lets go to Macramé classes and make beaded pot holders”
• “Janey, I adore taxidermy in birds; see my stuffed peacock?”
• “I love making seashells into lampshades”
• “Do you fancy trying dogging?”
• “Let’s go hill walking”
• “Do you like my fake tan?”
• “Madonna is a wonderful writer of children’s books”
• “Don’t you think Victoria Beckham is gorgeous?”
• “Do you think I would suit a pipe?”
 
He knows all of these topics are off limits and I am not saying he wants any of these things, but in my mind they are the worst things a man can say other than “I like stabbing babies” which is horrendously off limits and I don’t know anyone who would say that…but it was an extreme example.
 
So my pal is right; she should have a list of things she looks for in a man.

There are good things men can say and do like…
   
• Cleaning.
• Ironing.
• Raising babies.
• Cleaning out a Hoover.
• Going to the late night shops for cookies.
• Hand washing your underwear.
• Cooking.
 
I suppose that’s a bit much to ask, but it’s worth a try


Thursday the 20th of September 2007
05:13:36 AM

What men must NEVER DO

To follow on from my last blog that I had so many comments about, I thought I would add on.
 
Here are some examples of what men must NOT do.
 
Men must…
 
• Never buy lavender talcum as a birthday present and then, after the screaming has finally abated, produce ANOTHER tin of talcum because the supermarket had a two-for-one deal on the product.
  
• Never say out loud: “When did your knickers start cutting into your fat bum? You have red marks - do they hurt?”
 
• Never stroke your wife in the dark in bed and ask: “Is that your boob or that fat bit that comes round your back?”
 
• Never ask why, after so much application of make-up, you look the same as you did when you started.
 
• Never laugh out loud when you bang your toe.
 
• Never - when asked an opinion on your outfit - actually assume that we want the real truth.
 
• Never tell a complete stranger on an aeroplane: “That’s my wife just farted; she ate a curry last night and always farts like this the next day”
 
• Never point out a spot in your wife’s face; I think she would already have guessed it is there.
 
• Never laugh out loud in a shop when your wife holds up a dress.
 
• Never tell people that your wife can’t cook and you once almost died of food poisoning when she made an apple crumble.
 
• Never tell a journalist that your wife doesn’t really see comedy as a job: she talks like that in the house, the shops, the car and to kids and you would rather pay to shut her up and that you cannot understand why people pay to hear her and that she talks like that in her sleep. You see… they print that shit.
 
• Never ask her why she married you. It was probably a long time ago and, in the late 70s, skinny boys with big eyes seemed sexy back then.
 
So there we have some of my sage advice on what men should never say,. Now I know there are loads of things women shouldn’t say, but I am not about to reveal the sisterly secrets, faults and misdemeanours. Am I now?


Friday the 21st of September 2007
02:12:26 PM

Flybe Are Shit

Flybe airline in the UK have driven me to near screaming. I was booked to fly out of Glasgow on the 9am flight to Southampton to do comedy from the Thursday till Sunday. So I got up at 7am and made my way to the airport all sleepy headed and irritable. (I don’t do mornings).
 
As I stood in the queue a man with ginger tufty hair, a mustard corduroy suit and paisley patterned dickie-bow just jumped the queue and went in front of me. Normally I would have shouted, but I was too tired and all the other business men who looked like a Gordon Brown look-a-like contest all stood meekly watching. I sighed and stood annoyed but said nothing.
 
Then the check-in desk clerk announced the flight to Southampton was cancelled. We all had to troop over to the service desk for info. Of course, corduroy man was there first. He babbled and chatted in his upper class annoying accent for ages as I stood behind him waiting for the information. He then left his place, carrying his entire luggage; he banged into me and knocked my laptop to the floor. He just carried on regardless and marched through the queue.
 
“Excuse me, you could at least say excuse me or sorry,” I finally screamed in frustration.
 
“I am sorry,” he sneered with his head half over his shoulder, like saying sorry to the likes of me was something he never really bothered with.
 
“Really? Well you don’t sound sorry. Just watch where you are going,” I answered and I could feel the businessmen shuffle; they probably didn’t like confrontation.
 
The mustard suited man leaned over and bellowed: “Well, thank you for being so understanding!” in his own sarcastic way.
 
That was enough for me: “Listen up, you middle class queue-jumper, don’t look down at me and stop acting like you know how to communicate with people - The last time I saw someone dressed like you, we were throwing coconuts at his head in a village fair. Now, piss off and learn some manners!”
 
The men behind me giggled.
 
The woman at the desk giggled and informed me I had to come back at 2pm for the next flight. I was so angry and tired.
 
So I duly arrived back at the airport in time to catch the 2pm flight and guess who was seated in the tiny seat on the tiny wee aeroplane beside me? Oh yes, mustard dickie-bow man!
 
It was one of those aeroplanes that looks like it flew in World War II. I was horrified and annoyed, the plane was full and mustard man made such a fuss getting into the minuscule seat, banging against me, elbowing me and tried to open a broad sheet newspaper that almost covered my face as he stretched out his yellow corduroy arms.
 
I hissed: “Excuse me, spatially-unaware man, this (I indicated my seat area with my open arms) is my dance space and that (I pointed to his wee seat area) is your dance space. Do not cross the line. Touch me again and I will stab you with a pencil in the eye.”
 
He looked at me and spoke loudly: “You are incredibly rude.”
 
I answered, “Yes I am, now shut up and if you speak to me again, I swear I will scream and get that air steward down here quicker than a poof running to a Kylie concert, you understand?”
 
He shut up.
 
Finally, the plane landed and I watched everyone or almost everyone pick up their luggage. There were about twenty people left standing and we all realised our luggage wasn’t coming. Fucking Mustard Man got his luggage though….

My luggage somehow never made it on the Glasgow plane, which I don’t understand. The plane was the size of a skateboard and how can they fuck that up?
 
So there I was in Southampton with no luggage. I had to go to the town centre and buy toothpaste, toothbrush and clean knickers.
 
I checked into the hotel and now I have woken up and it’s Friday. I have a show tonight and no clothes STILL! I need to go into town but it's cold and my thick jacket is in that case.
 
I called John Smeaton back in Glasgow. He is the accidental hero of the terror attacks on Glasgow airport and he is a baggage handler there and a good friend of mine; he is on the case to find my case.
 
So, everyone, feel sorry for me today. I am cold, dirty and look like a pikey.


Sunday the 23rd of September 2007
04:52:01 PM

What Women must never do or say

Following on from the previous blogs about what men must never do or say – here is the female equivalent!
 
Women must never say to men:
 
• Can you actually see your penis when you look down, or does your tummy hide it?
 
• Is that you squealing with an orgasm or has your foot gone into a cramp during sex again?
 
• Would you like to come into town and help me pick shoes?
 
• Yes, I would love to watch the football with you, but only if I get to score the footballers asses out of ten for cuteness. Is the grass muddy? I love it when it sticks to their firm butts.
 
• Of course I would love sex, but can you take the weight on your elbows as a punctured lung is not really considered erotic?
 
• Let me pluck your eyebrows.
 
• Wear this pink sweater with cats' faces on and prove to everyone in the pub that you are safe in your own sexuality, or I will think you are gay and hiding it.
 
• No, there is nothing wrong with me and if you can’t actually guess what is wrong with me then that’s because you don’t pay attention; and no I am not giving you a hint as to what may be wrong with me. What do you think is wrong with me?
 
• I would like you to pick my outfit today for a very important meeting; I trust your fashion sense implicitly.
 
• Wear a bandana and faded jeans; I loved the 80s.
 
• Try on my pantyhose/tights under your jeans…just for a laugh.
  
Women should NEVER say any of the above, it’s evil and bad!


Monday the 24th of September 2007
02:58:47 PM

The Samaritans

There is a wonderful organisation here in the UK called The Samaritans who are on call 24 hours a day; they listen to people who are on their hunkers and at their deepest, darkest despair. Sometimes people just need to talk, it doesn’t have to be suicide it can be about bullying, worries about health, family…anything really. They listen. They have volunteers and do sterling work.
 
I donated a signed copy of my book and a huge painting that was part of an award winning art exhibition; the painting is called ‘One Night in New York’ and the bidding is on EBAY and it’s only up there for ten days.
 
Please check it out and get bidding of you want a fabulous original artwork and give some well-needed money to charity. It will be so worthwhile and you can stare at my painting that has some really funny swear words written boldly on it, something to annoy the in-laws and local church group with!


Wednesday the 26th of September 2007
12:40:28 AM

The Acid Trip, the Robbers and Nancy the Dog

Back in 1982 we owned a bar in the East End of Glasgow.
 
It was the kind of place that Hollywood directors would later spend millions of pounds recreating when they made films about the birth of New York.
 
It was a back street hellhole; the customers wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Tarantino film which had featured vampires, dead people and heroin users.
 
The carpets stuck to your feet with years of urine and indecipherable waste that may have dated back to Victorian times.
 
The walls were a result of umpteen fires; it had loads of smoke damage and sported that aged, crackled paint which is now fashionable with gays in urban lofts.
 
The artwork consisted of the kind that showed dogs and cats dressed in cheap suits playing poker pasted on a tacky mirror. The customers looked like the badly dressed animals in the picture.
 
I fitted in: that was the scary part.
 
I was only 21 years old.
 
We had a pool table. Occasionally, if a fight broke out, the pool balls and cues were used as weapons and stabbing implements. How lazy were our thugs? They didn’t even bother to carry their own artillery.
 
We had to buy new pool balls and cues every three months due to the damage they received. New eyes and foreheads weren’t our responsibility.
 
One hot summer day, I got very bored.
 
It’s not a good sign if you get bored in a place where there might be a police raid every half hour.
 
That would be fair excitement to any other soul in a city, but not in Glasgow.
 
It merely broke up the monotony of dull drugged men, Duran Duran on the jukebox and a vicious pit bull terrier called Nancy that occasionally came bursting in and bit people at random. We never knew who the evil white snub-nosed dog belonged to, but we all carried a scar.
 
It would butt the door open with its hard head, a scream would go up - “Nancy!” - and people who knew the war cry would leap onto tall stools, the bar or the pool table till Nancy got her fill of anyone who didn’t know the Nancy code.
 
Some foolish man would assume that this feared ‘Nancy’ was some disgruntled wife coming in for her useless husband and stayed in his place, supping his beer.
 
Her jerking evil square-looking head, pink nose and foaming mouth made good use of her twenty second raid.
 
Then the poor unaware soul that never jumped to safety got bitten.
 
Nancy would run back out of the other door that could be pushed from the inside and off she would go to the next pub on her rounds of biting people, till she got bored as well I suppose.
 
So the day I got bored I decided to freak out the young guys who had just dropped acid. Acid was popular back then.
 
I knew this was a potent form of LSD as there had been talk of it knocking people mental.
 
My plan was this: I would get a local notorious bank robber called Billy who was a customer of mine to fake a robbery in the pub to really freak the boys.
 
It would be funny I said, as we plotted the scene.
 
There were three young guys at that pool table. ‘One-Ear’ - a ginger haired spotty man with one ear. ‘Bob the Cat’- a diehard punk who wore chains on his neck. And ‘Dodo’- an eighteen year old skinny heroin user who sang Gene Pitney songs with his eyes shut.
 
I gave Billy a hand gun that fired blanks. I say this like everyone had a fake gun lying beside the hand wash sink, but this was the East End of Glasgow and that was as normal as having dogs and cats play poker on your walls.
 
Then I had to recruit the other ‘actors’. One guy called Ike was, in fact, a real actor and was in the film ‘Gregory’s Girl’.
 
I directed the show.
 
Ike would be shot and fall to the floor, I would hand over a bag of cash and the gun would then be fired at me and I would die. We spoke in hushed tones till we got the scene right in our heads.
 
Billy walked outside and pulled over his face the brown nylon tights I gave him as a mask. I watched through the glass panel on the door.
 
He dramatically held the handgun aloft and prepared to run into the bar to play out the scene. At that moment two policemen, who were in a passing car, stopped their vehicle and leapt from it, jumped on him and held him on the pavement.
 
“It’s a fucking joke.” he hissed as the coppers tried to cuff him. “We are going to freak the customers out. Go ask Janey.” I am sure they had heard every story and excuse going in the East End. Amateur dramatics were not going to stand up in court they must have reckoned.
 
I was wondering what the fuck was keeping Billy. I mean, he didn’t have to get into character - he was a real robber!
 
Then I saw through the small door window the policeman started to drag him into a police car and I dashed to the door, opened it and pulled Billy free and shouted at the policemen:
 
“What the fuck are you doing? We are playing at me being robbed! Do you know how bored I get in there?” I pointed at the pub. “He is not going to rob me. He is pretending to rob me to scare those three fuckwits who are full of acid. It will be fun!”
 
The policemen looked at each other, shrugged and then let Billy free.
 
“Come and watch through the other door and see it, if you don’t believe me,” I hissed.
 
The policemen must have been as bored as me because they agreed and Billy once more pulled the tights over his face, watched as the two policemen ran to the other door on the other side of the building.
 
They opened the door quietly and peeped through, unnoticed by the three acid heads who still hadn’t hit one ball and were stoned out of their skulls.
 
Billy kicked the door in and screamed: “Everyone on the fucking floor!”
 
The three guys didn’t even move, they all stood stock still and stared at the ceiling.
 
I stifled a giggle and then Billy ran at Ike. He fired the gun at his head. A huge bang went off and Ike dropped to the floor in his best acting skills.

I screamed for effect.
 
Then Billy demanded that I hand over the money. I had a big bag prepared and held it over and Billy then shot me. The gun noise failed this time and Billy actually shouted “Bang” to make up for the lack of noise!
 
I fell behind the bar and lay there like dead.
 
I managed to fall in a position on the floor where I could still see the three pool-playing acid heads.
 
They hadn’t even moved! They were all staring at the fucking ceiling.
 
Billy held the gun over towards the three guys and shouted: “You saw fuck all or you die!”
 
None of them spoke. They all stood stiffly and stared upwards, not moving, not breathing, not looking anywhere but the same spot on the ceiling that they had been visually fixated with since the robbery began.
 
Billy ran out. At that moment Nancy the biting dog ran in, she took one look at the bodies on the floor, the men staring at the ceiling, she was totally confused and headed straight for the other door for a quick exit.
 
I had never seen that dog looked so scared in my life!
 
At the other door she saw the two policemen on their knees peeping through the door. She finally got her victims, leapt and bit one viciously on the head and made off into the street. Barking as she went.
 
The policeman screamed, fell into the pub which by now resembled an elaborate game of statues and the three acid trippers dropped to the floor when they saw the policeman in uniform.
 
They huddled together under the pool table and clung to each other like doomed men on the Titanic.
 
I leapt to my feet and clapped my hands, laughing loudly. The three men under the pool table screamed like girls.
 
Ike got up and hugged me and we both took a bow. The three men screamed again. This time one fainted and the other two screamed more.
 
The policeman ran around looking for the dog and demanded the first aid box.
 
Billy came running in carrying the money bag and laughed at the policeman with the bleeding head and watched the remaining two acid boys scream and scream over and over again. The noise was deafening. Ike and I were laughing our heads off and commenting on each others fantastic ‘death’ positions.
 
At that point, my father-in-law came into the pub and tried to make sense of the chaos.
 
“What the fuck is going on?” he shouted over the noise.
 
“George, it looks bad but here’s what happened. Billy, Ike and I decided to pretend to be robbed to freak out the junkies, the police watched on for a laugh, but one of them got attacked by Nancy the biter and Ike and I pretended to be dead, then Billy ran back in and the guys under the pool table are really scared...funny eh?”
 
“Why?” he merely asked, his arms outstretched.
 
I looked around at the frenzied scene and said quietly: “I was bored”.
 
The three acid trippers lay under that pool table for nearly an hour and could not be coaxed out till the drug finally left their system. The policemen drove off to the local emergency hospital to get a tetanus jag for the injured cop and Ike, Billy and I decided that acting was a great job and one day I should write a play about the pub.
 
“Maybe when I get bored enough” I smiled.
 
And one day I did!


Friday the 28th of September 2007
12:10:35 AM

The Handbag and the Pliers

I recall our first wedding anniversary as if it were yesterday. We ran a pub at the time and we both got out of bed to the smell of coffee emanating from the coffee maker which was on a timer and spluttered to life every morning at 9am. The radio clicked on and Fat Larry’s band sang ‘Zoom’. It was 1981.

I never thought we would last a year of marriage. No one did; in fact the favourite bet had been 6 months. We were so mismatched: one person really quiet and easily annoyed the other (me) loud and rambunctious.
 
I knew he would be my boyfriend from the minute we met. He mentioned on an early meeting that he wanted to travel and from that moment I set out to bewitch him into my way of thinking. Any boy that wanted to escape Scotland was OK by me.
 
I couldn’t believe I met someone who saw beyond babies, factory work, religious bigotry and football. My idea of hell was to settle down in a wee council house, raise some kids and spend my life making steak pie and soup whilst being a member of the local bingo. It was his idea of hell also.
 
Yet, still we didn’t match. He didn’t like socialising, he mistrusted people in general, hated families despite being one of seven sons with an overbearing father who was named locally a ‘Gangster’ and he disliked having to work in the pub his father gave us to run.
 
It seemed all our plans to run away to see the world were put on hold to appease his dad. We conformed, we became publicans, we served booze that we didn’t drink, we breathed in smoke that we didn’t want and we listened to enough shit from drunken wife-beaters to make any normal person prefer a slow death rather than carrying on.
 
But carry on we did.
 
So that morning of our wedding anniversary we requested a night off to go into town and have dinner in a city restaurant. I was excited: we had never got to eat dinner together in almost a year as the pub was so short staffed, and we worked the shifts between us. One ate dinner and the other tended the bar until it was swap-over time. Either one of us would regularly eat slightly cold food.
 
I pressed my burgundy skirt that matched my jacket, a crisp white blouse was laid out and I found a wee handbag that was given to me by my sister. I never up until that point used a handbag. I had no need.

I never carried cash or keys and I never owned any make up!

I was twenty years old and had never been shown or had any interest in make up.

I didn’t come from people who used make up. My mum never had any in her life and my sister married young and left home when I was 14 years old, so I hadn’t been introduced to it.
 
I remember sitting in the bedroom wondering what to put in that handbag and I came up with an idea. I lifted a pair of heavy red rubber-handled pliers made of dense stainless steel and shoved them into the black satin lining of the bag just to weigh it down a bit. It felt better with a bit of weight in it.
 
Later that night, husband and I headed off on the bus into town. It was a short ride as we lived near the city centre and we walked to the restaurant. It was lovely just to sit down and eat Indian food in peace, both of us getting warm food at the same time.

“Where did you get that wee handbag?” husband asked, as I lifted it politely to go to the bathroom they way other women did.

“My sister gave me it,” I answered.

He looked puzzled and said: “What do you have in it?”
 
I leaned over and whispered: “I didn’t have anything to put it in, so look.”

I held the bag open and he saw the big pliers in the bag. He laughed out loud and said: “Are you going to take the fittings off the toilet pan and bring them back to the pub?”
 
“I should do that, actually, as our toilet pan in the pub is broken,” I laughed back.
 
I went into the fancy toilets of the Indian restaurant and stared at the pliers in my handbag and wondered if there were other women in the world who carried tools in their bag because they didn’t own stuff to put there. I couldn’t ever imagine what I would ever need a handbag for in my future. Who needs to carry stuff around with them? Pockets were good for loose change and keys.
 
Little did I know that, in my future, I would own a huge bag collection and ultimately end up carrying my entire life in bags as I travelled around the world, needing so much stuff like my iPod, passport, credit cards, painkillers, tampons, pen and notebook all at my fingertips! How naïve I really was back then.
 
That night was lovely. We enjoyed the dinner and spoke about how, after one year of marriag, it was still OK and we should try to see if we could last another year.
 
“I promise, Janey, one day we will get away from here and travel. I don’t know how or when, but we will get there,” he whispered as we stood in the cold September night and the rain slashed side ways into our faces.
 
Well, we stayed in that marriage and that pub for another fifteen years before fate dealt us a hand to escape. My father-in-law died in 1994 and the family turned on each other to the point where we felt we were running blindly into an abyss. We had to make a life-changing decision. We would simply go.
 
We didn’t know where we would end up, what job we would be doing or even where we would stay. With having an eight year old daughter in tow now the adventure was a lot scarier and riskier than we anticipated.

But we did it. We never once looked back. We left our pub and flat, got a house and I became a stand-up comic and writer.
 
Slowly, of course; not overnight. Sometimes comedy seemed too hard or to politically difficult to break into with me being a woman and in her 30s,but my husband never once told me to give in. He reckoned after 15 years of doing his preferred job I should carry on with my preferred career, no matter how difficult it seemed to be.
 
So today we are 27 years married and tonight we are going to my favourite top restaurant. I will carry a handbag, but leave behind the pliers; I will pay for the meal, as I prefer to do that. We will eat nice food and wonder yet again why we are still together. (This is something we do quite often, as we are still mismatched). We don’t have answers; we can only keep wondering. It may take us another ten years of wondering; but that will be OK, I suppose.
 
If not… I can always shove heavy pliers into my handbag and hit him hard on the head.

OK, not the romantic ending you wanted, dear reader, but…it’s my life and I get to choose!


Saturday the 29th of September 2007
05:12:33 PM

Late Night Walks

There can be nothing to make you feel more ancient than young people who hand out flyers for city centre night clubs avoiding you in the street.
 
These pretty long legged sexy chicks saw husband and me approaching and almost got hit by a speeding car to make sure we weren’t getting an invite to ‘Hard Rock Sexy Night at The Nice’ n’ Sleazy’.
 
We laughed, wrapped our warm woollen coats around us and carried on regardless. Young people were hanging out in groups in what can only be described as beachwear on a dark September night in Glasgow. I don’t ever recall wearing a skimpy pair of knickers and a tiny bra without a coat in the freezing cold.
 
As we walked further down the road, we came upon a couple of big fat Romanian women selling pink glittery cowboy hats and some cheap cellophane-wrapped roses. A fat Romanian woman took one look at husband and offered him the chance to buy a cheap tacky pink hat.
 
“Do I really look like a man who wears pink plastic cowboy hats? he asked politely as he stuck both hands into his long black cashmere overcoat.

The woman begged for money and we both walked on. I have no issue with Eastern European beggars or hat sellers but if we don’t get offered the nightclub tickets then we surely don’t qualify for the pink hats either. The Romanians need to get some marketing tips from the sexy club promoters.
 
It had been a good night out; we had gone to a lovely restaurant called The Rogano in Glasgow for our wedding anniversary.
 
We used to eat there many years ago but, because of incessant travelling and busy lives, we haven’t really had time to enjoy our own culinary delights in our own fair city for such a long time.
 
It was lovely and the meal was awesome.
 
We both decided to take the surprise menu.

It consists of the latest fresh produce and seemed a good idea.
 
I asked the waiter (who must have about 18 years old if he was day):

“Does the chef come running out the kitchen dressed as a cat, carrying a huge silver platter and as he meows loudly does he pull the lid off the platter and reveal a stuffed mouse?”
 
The young man, in the very posh restaurant, looked at me with frightened eyes and said, “No. I think it might be fresh fish,” without a smile or any hint of humour.
 
“Well, cats like fish as so that would work also” I added, still trying to be funny, as other diners craned their necks to see who the mad person was.
 
“She is always trying to be funny; ignore her and please add a bottle of Rosé to that order, please,” husband sombrely spoke. The waiter liked him and hated me and my ‘whacky’ ways.
 
The food was fabulous. After dinner I decided to go outside to their heated seating area and have coffee and a ciggie. Husband brought out his after dinner brandy to join me. It was our wedding anniversary and so we should be together, he told me.
 
Outside there was a small drunken debacle going on with various Glaswegian punters who, after too much expensive wine, were going a wee bit mad. Just shouting and staggering about, nothing violent.
 
The restaurant waiters, who were all dressed in their starched black and whites, were nervously trying to contain the madness.
 
We sat beside two women in their mid-fifties who were slightly merry and nice, if not slightly beaten down a bit. They had the air of two women who had seen their fair share of shit lives. Just as we sat down with our coffee and drinks, one big fat drunk man stumbled away from their table.
 
The gas heaters pressed down warmth through the frosty Glasgow air. Outdoor tables are popular since the smoking ban and are always crowded at night.
 
“That drunk man would not leave our table, but we did get rid of him eventually. He wasn’t bad, just a bit crazy,” the blonde weary woman said to us. I think she was concerned that we assumed she and her friend were part of the drunken rabble.
 
“Well I am sure he meant no harm,” husband added and smiled.
 
Two male waiters milled around the small steel-topped tables and started clearing up as the drunks moved out.
 
The two women explained they were sisters and then, just as we were about to toast 27 years of marriage, the blonde one blurted out: “My son died last year, our mother died this year and my husband died when I was young and our cousin died.” She pointed to her sister and added: “Her husband just got put in a home with a long illness and is never coming out again.”
 
We all sat there is complete silence, the staff shuffled their feet and didn’t know where to look. I didn’t know what to say so I blurted out: “My mother was murdered!”

The two women stared at me; the atmosphere was thick with awkwardness and husband burst out laughing and said: “It wasn’t a competition; you don’t have to shout out deaths, Janey!” He laughed more and clapped his hands with amusement at my odd statement.
 
The two women laughed as well and I giggled under my breath; the posh, starched-aproned staff stood uneasily and then they started laughing as well.
 
“Here is to all the dead people we both know and to many more years of enjoying the living,” I said and lifted my coffee cup. We all clinked glasses and sat smiling.
 
“Yes, cheers!” said the two ladies.
 
We all sat chatting some more about life and other stuff that strangers do when they meet; we traded backgrounds and past addresses and spoke about jobs and places we both knew and have been.
 
“We haven’t been out in years; this is nice, chatting,” the blonde woman added and smiled broadly.

“Yes, it is nice,” I said and it was nice.