Bankruptcy, Hospitals and Christmas.

Where do I start? For starters, Em goes to hospital on Tuesday for surgery. She’ll be there for about 5 days and will need 4-6 weeks recuperation time.

Next. Money woes. We are BEYOND broke. But these days, who isn’t? We’ve seen Citizen’s Advice and they will be helping us negotiate with creditors. We need to change bank accounts and may eventually have someone else operating an account on our behalf. In the New Year we’ll no doubt be officially bankrupt, but bizarrely it’ll probably mean we’ll cope better than we have done in recent years.

The down side is that this year will be an extra lean Xmas. I mean we’ve not been extravagant by any means in recent years. We would just indulge a little on having nicer food (IE: buying from M&S rather than ASDA). But it’s going to be really tight this year so not even nicer food will happen. Keeping a roof over our heads is just a TAD more important!

Despite all this, I feel upbeat. We’re doing stuff to sort out our debt. Em’s surgery will hopefully result in her improved well being. And Xmas is all about being thankful for your lot and (not forgetting) celebrating Christ’s birth.

I know there are people out there still FAR worse off than us. How can I be anything but upbeat about our future?

It Wasn’t Just Children Who Were “In Need”!

Shambolic is the only word that could describe this years Children In Need. And why the hell should I be made to feel guilty for not donating when Terry Wogan can command 1500 pounds an hour for his hosting “skills”. The man is crap! He behaved as if drunk. If wasn’t taking his cues properly. He was making weird “off the cuff” remarks. He was amateurish at best.

Most of the acts were throw away. The cast of Eastenders doing Beatles songs. The Spice Grans MIMING their new single “Headlines” which sounds more like they are singing “hairlines” to me.

Not 5 minutes into the show, the new Joseph lost sound on his mic when performing “Any Dream Will Do”. The sound problems continued all night.

It WAS awful! I’ll never get those 7 hours back!

For those of you wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Children In Need is sort of like an old style telethon in which a load of “entertaining” bits of TV are put together to get people to watch and donate money. It’s put on by the BBC each November. For more info in to:

HAPPY Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving. Sounds like everything I love about Xmas, only without the presents…as far as I know. I’m not up on Thanksgiving history/culture.

It does seem odd that in such a God-fearing country as America is, a lot more people seem to put more emphasis on Thanksgiving than on Xmas. As far as I know, it is when the turkey dinner is traditionally eaten, not as it is in Europe and in particular Britain when it’s at Xmas. Families seem to try harder in the U.S. to be together for Thanksgiving. People don’t feel pressured into exchanging presents, as we do with ever increasing financial strain, year after year at Xmas. Lastly, it doesn’t seem to be an overtly religious event (despite it being called Thanksgiving – IE: giving thanks to God – I assume – for a plentiful bounty and all the “good things” in our lives), despite the name of the holiday.

I wish we had Thanksgiving in England.

But then, maybe not.

I do love some of the aspects of Xmas. I think the time of year is better. It’s just that little bit later into winter. Not so ideal for shopping, but lovely for Xmas eve and Xmas day, sitting around the fire, having lovely, big and hot meals that make you feel like you’ve put on 10 pounds in 1 hour! I love Xmas decorations, trees, garlands, wreaths. As a kid I use to LOVE making paper chains! And of course, although I rarely get them these days, I LOVE the presents.

I love sending cards. And although some are religious, and although I’ve been a total hypocrite and been to church a few years back to enjoy them, I LOVE Xmas carols and Xmas songs. We have a church not 5 minutes walk away, and we went in 2005 for the carol service. But it was really lovely. It’s a non-domination church, and it was quite liberal (as churches go), not doing lots of preaching and stuff. It was a really nice service, and we all sang carols. It was lovely.

As much as I love Xmas though, there are things that are overbearing about it.

The compulsion to buy presents. The more expensive, the better. And the relentless ad campaigns that go with it. I mean, it’s in full swing on TV (and all other media) now. The supermarkets started filling their shelves with Xmas themed food weeks ago. I haven’t been in a supermarket for about 6 weeks (last visit, early October), but the last time I went, there was already stock on the shelf. The campaigns on TV will just get more and more manic. Soon the Xmas songs will start (mostly in shops and that, so I have been spared so far, as I really don’t get out much these days), and so by the time Xmas day comes, you’ve heard “White Christmas” at least 50 times (subliminally, and non-subliminally), Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” about 100 times, and the new favourite for “playing to death”… The Pogues “Fairytale of New York” what feels like 500 times, but is in reality probably only 150 times!!

Supermarkets start to look like we’re heading for The Blitz at around December 18, and if you’ve missed something off the shopping list and don’t remember it until Xmas eve, you might just want to write out your last will and testament before heading off to the supermarket for that last vital thing, because you may just die there, waiting in the queue!

One last thing that I use to hate about Xmas as a kid. The only thing in fact. Australia. I HATED living in Australia at Xmas. Xmas in the northern hemisphere looked SSOO lovely. And all the stories whilst growing up were all northern hemisphere biased. All the little things like Santa arriving by coming down the chimney! HEEEELLLLOOOO…no house in Oz that *I* ever knew of had a chimney. How was Santa ever going to leave our presents? Break in through a window? Then of course there was the sleigh and the reindeer. Rudolph with his shiny red nose. Not because it was minus 10 degrees in Oz, but because it was more like bloody 25 degrees on Xmas eve NIGHT! Silent Night? Silent night…on a tropical evening in Sydney?! Doubt it!!

The one nice thing that Oz has for Xmas though is Carols by Candlelight…outdoors! That’s nice. Although, again, traditional carols are a bit northern hemisphere/wintery themed. Very odd to sing “Winter Wonderland” on a summer’s evening in 25 degree heat!

I really do love my winter Xmases though. They are the best.

So, happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. Xmas, the steam train, moves ever closer.

I’m a Lark trapped in a night Owl’s body.


I don’t know just how long through my life I have craved to be able to arise in the morning with the birds. I’ve been a night owl for many years. Mum tells me it started from the moment I was born really. I’ve had brief dalliances into the world of the lark. Mostly when it involved being awake for SSSOOO long that I was already awake the next morning! A few times it’s happened due to jet-lag. And a few times it’s been down to pure luck and I’ve “fluked” a few weeks of larkish behaviour.

At this point in time I’m further away from being a lark than I ever have been. I was in Australia for several months at the beginning of this year. It started out well. Jet-lag allowed me to be a lark for about oh…two weeks! Then the old owl crept back in, and eventually took over. This was helped greatly by some inexplicable, freakish event that overtook my nerves and made it almost impossible for me to sleep for the rest of my stay in Oz. I was like it for weeks. Most nights I wouldn’t get to sleep until around 5-6am. If you can still regard that as night? No, it isn’t, is it?!

And that’s my point. I’ve always loved the idea of waking around 6am, watching the sun come up, hearing the birds wake up. But instead that’s when I’m fast asleep from only nodding off just a couple of hours before. At the moment I’m getting to sleep around 4am. Then I’m DRAGGING myself back out again around 10.30-11.00am. If I was getting my recommended 8 hours sleep, I wouldn’t get up til midday (and on the odd occasion I do, because I’m just SSOO dog-tired)!

I’m a creature of habit really. And this behaviour is habitual. It’s fueled by two things. Firstly, I can never drag myself away from TV at night. I’m always finding something to watch around 10.30-11.00pm which gets me hooked for an hour or so. Also by this time (well, use to be, not so much now), Em is asleep, so then I spend some time on the Internet. Which means I go to “bed” at any time between midnight and 1.30am. Then I don’t turn in straight away, I’ll play my Nintendo DS, or play games on my mobile phone, or listen to music. So, probably by around 3am, I’m ready to turn in.

I don’t know. Sometimes I get REALLY guilty for being like this (night owl) and other times I think “why do I care”? It’s not like I’m some super-fit person or something. It’s not like if I got up early, I’d be outside with the birds or anything.

I just think I’d feel better being a lark.

Photo supplied by: Spirit635 under creative commons (some rights reserved)

It’s Only Hair!

“But I liked it!”, replies the attention-seeking, recalcitrant no-mark. Another “victim” of Celebrity Scissorhands. If you have no experience of this programme, it’s about training a group of “celebrities” (I put them in commas because unless you live in the UK and have no life “HELLO” – waves hands in the air – you will probably not have heard of ANY of these so-called celebrities) to become hairdressers/beauty therapists with around 13 years experience in just 3 weeks.

It’s all for charity. The BBC’s annual fund-raising event which is broadcast each November, called Children In Need. Last year on the night, the celebrities that remained in training styled the hair of the people taking part in Children In Need that night. This year they will be taking part in a hairdressing “show-down” where they will be performing styles in front of a panel of hairdressing and celebrity judges. The best is crowned “Celebrity Scissorhands Hairdresser of the Year 2007”.

Nine “celebrities” are taking part with the assistant to head hairdresser (and trainer) Lee Stafford, being last year’s favourite, Steve Strange (of 80’s pop icons Visage). All the celebs are to train in all aspects of hairdressing and beauty therapy. So they’ll be doing anything from cutting and styling hair, to waxing, to massage, body wraps, facials, manicures and pedicures…everything.

Members of the general public apply online to go into the salon to be “clients” of the celebrities. You can state your preference between having your hair cut, to having a beauty treatment, or an entire makeover.

Obviously the hair cuts are the best entertainment. The celebs start cutting on day one, with absolutely NO pre-training, just a very basic “this is how you hold the scissors and this is how you make a cut” approach, and off they go!

Baring this in mind, can anyone explain to me WHY someone would apply to this programme IF they are SO precious about their hair? It must be to get on TV, as there would be no other reason if you are that uptight about it. On day one, Ben Nicholas (Stingray off Neighbours) cut a ladies hair and she was getting really pee-d off. She said he’d made her “look like a boy” and so STEVE STRANGE (if you happened to watch last year, you’ll know why I put this in capitals) was sent to rectify what “butchering” Ben had caused. Trust me, the last person you want to touch your hair if it has already been butchered is Steve Strange! Suffice to say, Steve tried to “salvage” the job and for a change didn’t do too badly. But anyway, it’s FOR BLOODY CHARITY!

So, you’re a big-headed love-me-do, but, you know you just happen to have a charitable side (that shines through most while you have your mug to TV it just so happens). You’re happy to apply to CS for a hair cut, because you know it’s for charity and you’ll raise some money for Children In Need. Until you’re at the salon, when Steve Strange approaches you and you rather hypocritically start to panic. You then start to forget about the little 2 year-old girl sleeping on the streets of Malawi you’re meant to be there to help because Steve has just left a big V-shaped gap in your hair. GET OVER IT! How pathetic do you look, obsessing about your hair when some child you are meant to be there for is being abused by their father while you’re there crying into your own hands because your hair looks funny. GET A GRIP!!

I love the show, but why oh why do the people that end up on there get SSOO worked up about their hair? One lady, obviously wonderfully charitable, raised £5,000 to have her hair cut on the show, but was visibly unhappy with her cut. I mean, take it on the chin! You raised 5K’s! Shouldn’t you be happy?

I’d be wrapped to be “Stranged” (as Steve’s cuts have come to be known). It would be a unique cut for one!

Just friggin’ live with it! It’s only hair after all.