Saturday, 20 November 2010

'Tis a season to be hairy

Hairy legs are a pain in the ass. I don’t mean a wisp of hair here and there; I mean a proper hairy affliction a Yeti would be proud of. What can you do? There’s creams, shavers, waxing and there’s laser hair removal at £450 a pop (and you need up to 10 pops, to make it work, ouch!). Or, the epilator method I subscribe to. Quite effective once you get over the initial shock of the needling pain that reverberates in the depths of your stomach.

The only thing is, in winter I get neglectful. There’s no incentive of skirts and bare legs, no incentive of the beach just round the corner. And no first date to worry about. Later on they don’t even notice.

So much later on Max doesn’t notice at all – I could grow tendrils of extraterrestrial proportions and he would remain blissfully unaware.

Still, I need to do something about my heavily coated pins, even though the likelihood of flashing my bare legs at somebody who'd care is presently zilch. But, first, I need to weigh up how much it’s bothering me against Max’s plea that I forget about it till spring. This way we will be able to turn the heating off.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Midnight hour seX factor

Oh, those murky hours between midnight and dawn... Sleepy hours... dreamy hours... working hours, for some unlucky sods...

Sometimes sexy hours, too... As I was hoping last night. I had just left the X Factor rehearsals and was making myself comfortable at the back of Simon Cowell's limo, sipping Krug and smacking my lips appropriately, when I was nudged. Quite unceremoniously. It was more like a shove, actually.

The limo's door opened, I was shoved again (quite unceremoniously), and my big bum made a loud splat on meeting the pavement. Tut, tut, not what you want at 1am but helps you wake up.

Max's face was looming over me and as I was still in a sexy mood... but then I remembered...

The midnight hour is download hour - until dawn we get our downloads for free. And it was my turn to get up.

So much for Mr Cowell. Maybe just as well. I only sing when I'm shaving - not sure he'd appreciate my hairy legs... As for my singing - let's just say my legs are much more impressive (in terms of hairiness, that is).

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

When life tastes of brown...

How to save the pennies when on holiday in Africa? Easy...

Firstly, it rained so no money spent on beach parasols and sun loungers.

Secondly, got food poisoning so saved on food, and water was cheap as chips. The little I could manage tasted of brown (yes, that's right, the supposedly chocolate ice-cream tasted just as I said - of brown) or, in the case of local biscuits, it was like licking the shelf in the spice cupboard. Trying to eat the local meat was like chewing on wee-stained old man's slippers that had been shuffling around for ten years or so.

Thirdly, bought no souvenirs 'cause couldn't cope with being hassled at the souks.

All in, a financial success.

Oh, nearly forgot. The bastard sat next to me on the flight back gave me the flu.

Suppose I'm still in a shitty mood over this...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Two dozen of my favourite things... not

What can one do with two dozen of eggs, close to their sell-by date? Husband couldn't help himself whilst browsing the "offers" shelf... apparently they were talking to him, winking at him very seductively indeed... I do sometimes wonder if his brain's scrambled...

Considering we eat, oh, I don't know, two eggs each a week, I make it a six-week supply... Only they won't last that long, not without giving us the squirts (or worse!) in the process.

Max says I could make home made pasta. The hell I could, like I have nothing better to do. Tried that once and never again. The end result looked like tapeworm and was just as slimey (I can only imagine them tapeworms are slimey, never had the pleasure of meeting one...)

It's quiche today, quiche tomorrow, I guess.

Oh, yes, I've solved the "chicken or egg" question (ok, ok, I stole that one off somewhere else but never you mind)... The chicken and an egg are laying in bed together, the chicken all happy, the egg annoyed. The egg turns to the chicken and says "Well, I guess we solved THAT riddle."
Funny it ain't but puts it to bed, doesn't it?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Wanna stroke my ferret!

We've stopped buying the weekly TV guide - a grand saving of 47 pence per week (£24.44 a year)!

Instead, Max collects a weekly "Homes & something" freebie from the estate agents round the corner, which has got TV pages at the back...

So, what I'm being deprived of is a weekly dose of "My ferret helped me through sex change" and similar stories that regularly appear in what used to be "our" TV rag. Balmy treatment for the tired mind, after a hard day's work...

What I get in return is pages and pages of properties for sale I'll never be able to afford... Not so balmy for the tired mind...

Might have to resort to shoplifting next. It's either that, or I get my ferret back..

Thursday, 9 September 2010

It’s only a Fiverr

Another day in front of my best friend, Herr Laptop...

Do you want to know how to wriggle out of paying a parking fine? My editor thinks you do so I'm writing away... The deadline's tomorrow, still another 1,500 words to go... Money's good, I know the subject well (ok, so I'm sad) but the creative juices are not flowing...

So I found this site to amuse myself with, in the spirit of all things thrifty... just google Fiverr and you can forget about work for the rest of the day...

On Fiverr people advertise their services to do all things imaginable for only (you've guessed it) a fiver... they can be your friend of Facebook (but only for two weeks), break up with your partner (via a medium of your choice), or make an uncomfortable phone call on your behalf (this one could come useful if I carry on like that - someone to ring my editor to explain why I've missed the deadline...)

Or, check these out:
  • I'll talk with you about Harry Potter for an hour (saddo...)
  • I'll say your name in my everyday prayer (now, how do I know they've kept to their side of the deal?)
  • I'll be your invisible friend for a week (as in: You can talk to me all you want. Although I may not answer, you can be confident that I'm there.)
And, at last, a voice of reason: I'll be very happy to accept your money and do absolutely nothing in return.

Did I mention that out of every $5 you pay, $1 goes to the brain behind Fiverr? Nice little gig, if one can get it. Please nod your head, I won't charge for that.

But I had to try it out, so I've settled for "a ball of spiritual energy"... Hang on, just arrived, got to get back to work...

Monday, 16 August 2010

Got your own hips?

Age is no laughing matter. Since I reached the grand old age of 20 (ok, it was a few years ago), the aches and pains have intensified and it's time I did something about it. So I signed up for pilates. To strengthen those core muscles, as they say. Including the pelvic floor so I don't pee myself when I'm really old.

Off I went to the first class, only to do a double take in the doorway. I was by far the only spring chicken there. Let me just say the teacher's first question was: "Ladies, I have to ask, have you all got your own hips?". You're kidding, I thought, but she winked at me so that's ok. I know I have a wrinkle or two but it's really not that bad... not yet anyway...

But why am I writing about this? Simple: they're using these squashy things called "blocks" while working on their pelvis (pelvises? pelvisis? oh, bugger off). You sort of put this thing between your knees and squeeeze! I'm saying "they", because I'm using a folded towel instead. Max wouldn't let me spend £8 on the proper stuff. I know it's only a bit of foam but why, oh why, do I have to be the odd one out in all respects??

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Three a penny

Is Max a rare specimen or are there other blokes like him out there? It's been bugging me for a while...

Let me see... I suppose there's Tim, Max's brother. Came for dinner the other day, his bike helmet under one armpit, a bottle of rose under the other. I'm very partial to the pink stuff (you name it and if it's pink, I've probably drunk it) but it must be chilled and it must be good. None of that Zinfandel rubbish. Wiping Tim's sweat off it on the way to the fridge, I eyed the dodgy label suspiciously... But, to my surprise, it was actually rather nice. Tim, very chuffed with himself, said he got it at his local offie, for the grand price of £2.99. Can you even get a bottle for less than three quid?? Apparently, Tim can.

Or Dan, Max's best friend. Loaded but always used to smoke MY cigarettes. Cured that, though, when I proffered him a rollie once (bought if off the local bum especially for the occasion). Spitting and sputtering, Dan popped out to get a packet of Marlboro Lights quicker than I could say "Gotcha!" Never pinched my fags again.

Finally, take George, a business bod and an IT whiz-kid with IQ off the Mensa scale (so, again, not short of a few pennies...) George has canned soup for dinner three times a week, of the 39p per can variety. Out of choice. He's got a wife. Wife doesn't work. Wife can cook.

I could go on - they are three a penny all around me. Rather comforting, that is.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Half a laugh

Max has decided to start halving dishwasher tablets. To help the environment, naturally, not the household budget. I must say I was left speechless for once, when he announced this new measure of near-austerity living but the result was just as good as when one used the whole tablet. How can I argue with that?

Although it filled me with dread, because what's next?

The amount of toilet paper he uses is suspiciously economical already - I suspect he takes half a sheet at a time, then folds it in half, and halves again. He's not started monitoring my "usage" as yet but who knows? I suppose there's always yesterday's papers. Or cabbage leaves...

Half a condom? That would be a laugh...

How about I suggest half a bottle of wine tonight? I normally manage only a glass before he glugs the rest. I'm gonna try that one, just for a laugh...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Kitty, kitty, where are you, kitty, kitty...

According to the BBC one needs £15,000 to keep a cat alive over the course of its lifetime. You know, food, vet's bills, the cattery. We've got three moggies... Max has done a quick calculation... Oh, dear...

Fortunately most days he prefers cats to people so I'm not too worried, but there are savings to be made. Let me see...

We're ok on the cattery front - so far, we haven't had to use one. When we're not there to pander to their every whim, Grandad comes in twice a day to scoop the poop, top up the food, and lock them in for the night. Otherwise, they pretty much look after themselves. Well, two of them do. The youngest refuses to use the catflap and, the stubborn little thing he is, just sits by the back door until someone lets him in or out. Max reckons the kitten is stupid and will never learn. We do try to teach him, pushing him through the flap back and forth, but to no avail: the little bugger doesn't want to know. So, next time we're on hols, this one will probably have to end up in a cattery.

Not sure we can do anything about vet's bills. What's worse, we visit the vet's virtually once a week because all the moggies have something wrong with them: skin condition, gum disease, permanent case of the grumps. Never anything too serious but it does add up. I reckon maybe a small car by now? Max says he might try to ask for a three-in-one discount if we take all three of them together next time.

Foodwise - that's a difficult one. The moggies are fussy eaters and we never know what they'll fancy for dinner. Once I opened three different tins before they deigned to eat the contents (of the third one, that is, the first two were unanimously rejected with annoyed flicks of their tails). The contents happened to be cod in gravy so I sent Max out to stock up. The following day, very pleased with myself, I put the cod on the menu again. The leader of the pack had a quick sniff, no more, and puked all over the offering. All three requested duck that day...

Hang on, yes, at least we don't have to buy them booze and drugs! Catnip does the job most days...

The everyday beauty of being owned by a cat... HMCCAP3ZZEMV

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

4D man

It appears a new type of man is emerging in 2010, a 4D or a 4 dimensional man. Someone has spent a lot of time and money on that one and concluded:
  • he's not as tribal as his predecessors, the metrosexual and the lad (when you were either in with the gang or against it, no middle ground, thank you very much)
  • he's increasingly interested in culture (since when watching endless episodes of The Wire makes them cultured?) and is more health conscious (a starve day anyone?)
  • he's confident, individual and has varied interests and passions (or, rather, inability to finish what they've started...)
  • he engages with multi digital platforms (whatever this means)
  • he's likely to be 15-40 years old (how convenient: the likely reader of men's mags..)
That someone (who did the research, I mean) is a publisher of many a glossy men's mag. Now they want to cater to the needs of that new man and say their titles will be "pivotal in helping the men become more 4D." The advertisers are onto them, too: they want to "reach and interact" with the new man.

So, more pressure to become something you're not and more pressure to spend your pennies on this and that (including the mags, of course!). Thank God Max refuses to be a sheep and doesn't follow the crowds! Might have something to do with his innate dislike of spending money but I'm glad for once...

I haven't quite worked out the 4D thing as yet... Could be a bit of a problem... They were so much easier to control living in 2D: just food and sex...

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A birthday cop-out?

I hate the thought of it but there's no escaping. My landmark birthday is approaching - next week I'll be 20... again... (there's a big heap of sand in my back garden - my head has been stuck in there for quite some time now).

I suppose I could console myself a little bit thinking about prezzies... So, what do I want for my birthday? This girl has many expensive shoes and handbags from days gone by, when I had money to throw away... The three wardrobes are chock-a-block with clothes I've got nowhere to wear to as I work from home and hardly venture outside (sob, sob...). I have seen the world, can't be bothered with jewellery, and gadgets scare me.

All this girl can think of for her birthday is some expensive pampering. There's only one problem: Max and his reluctance to put his hand in his pocket. My money (oops, I forgot, I haven't got any) is therefore on one of the following:

1) a voucher for the new salon round the corner (new, therefore 20% off)
2) a Champneys gift set (from Sainsbury's, no less)
3) an "I owe you" note.

Now, that last one, albeit a cop-out and hardly imaginative, is not as bad as it sounds (and I could stretch it way beyond the cost of the first two, I'm sure I could...).

My crowns need replacing (I did say it was a landmark birthday, didn't I?). Would this count as "pampering"?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Starve day

Max has decided last Monday of every month will be his starve day (some call it detox)... To cleanse the bowels and the mind... And his wallet perhaps? Nah, surely that would be too extreme, even for Max?

Apparently one thinks much more clearly on an empty stomach. So, no food whatsoever, just water and tea with very little fully skimmed milk. Or that herbal stuff he always buys that looks and tastes like something swept off the factory floor...

The start was very promising from what I could hear - the bowels cleansing movement could wake the dead. Max was very proud of the results that far and felt "strangely light" (no surprise there, we went for a curry on Sunday night). By lunchtime his good spirits were definitely waning and I saw murder in his eyes when he looked at me enjoying my goats cheese salad. Like, really enjoying it... Well, I could have stayed out of his way rather than lead him to temptation. But I just couldn't help myself, silly man...

The afternoon was a bit strained so I did stay out of his way. I could hear him banging away at the keyboard upstairs, muttering to himself, ever so slightly unhinged by the self inflicted trauma. He never managed to finish whatever he was doing, too frequently interrupted by yet another visit to the toilet. What was that about thinking more clearly on an empty stomach?

I was banned from eating my dinner anywhere near him and the cats had to eat their supper outside. Poor Max, even the sight of tinned cat food was too much to bear...

By the end of the day he was even less lucid, his mutterings getting more disturbing, his stomach no longer growling. "I feel fuzzy," he said and went to bed at 8.30.

I just need to put it on record that he went through a week's supply of toilet paper... Which I kindly pointed out first thing this morning.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Off to see the wizard...

I sent Max food shopping today, alone. Now, I don't normally do this. Even with a carefully scripted shopping list, he ignores the directives and comes back with offers (at best) or stuff dangerously close to their sell-by date (at worst). The wrong side of their sell-by date, I hasten to add. Also, what he would call non-essential stuff is often sold out. Or so he claims.

But I was busy today, trying to earn a few pennies, so off he went, all on his lonesome.

Two hours later he was back, looking somewhat sheepish. And guilty as hell. Apparently, they had sold out of my favourite cherry beer. And that goats cheese I like was discontinued. And I can make my own ear buds with some cocktail sticks and the cotton wool that has been lingering in the bathroom cupboard since time immemorial.

But, oh triumph!, he got us a pack of four white giant burger baps, at half the price of the brown bread I would usually get.

We don't do burgers. We don't do white bread (we are quite health conscious... or snobs... call it what you want). Baps - these we don't do at all.

Now he's dug out my mother's old mincer so I can whiz up homemade burgers with the old hunk of beef he also bought (yes, it was on offer and cheaper than the ready made mince...).

Off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Mince. I hear he is a whiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was... This witch will lose her fingers tonight...

Or, shall I tell him to take a whiz?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

He only lasts 3 minutes...

Max balances himself carefully, legs astride, his knuckles white with the effort of grasping the edge of the bathtub... His breathing gets faster and faster, beads of sweat start forming on his forehead and his whole body trembles uncontrollably... And then... Wham bam thank you mam! He collapses in a heap at the bottom of the tub... He doesn't usually last longer than the proverbial 3 minutes...

Since we are getting poorer by the day, I'm not allowed to have a soak (neither does Max, obviously...) 'cause it takes too much hot water and, excuse the pun, it's money down the drain... Yadi, yadi, ya... Our bathtub is now Max's oversized bidet, hence the uncomfortable and bizarre balancing act... Bizarre, albeit strangely compelling to watch...

I wouldn't be caught dead with my bum hanging over the bath. Anyway, off to have a shower. A three minute one, mind you...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Little leggies

How many times can you wear the same pair of socks? Well, on Planet Max sometimes twice (to save on washing powder, naturally). I must say it only happens if he's worn the said pair for the afternoon or so, so he's not a complete dirtbag.

I suppose it wouldn't bother me so much if the said pair then actually ended up in the laundry basket. But Max usually just drops them on the stairs and it's a long way up to where the laundry basket is. Poor little mites struggle up the stairs for hours on end, pining for a helping hand....

Yesterday I felt so sorry for their lonely, Sisyphus plight, I gave them legs. Cardboard cut-outs, two to a sock, sewn on with a bit of thread. Each labelled "I've grown a leggie!" Then I waited for Max.

They got up the stairs relatively quickly after that.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Electric Light Orchestra... not!

We're poor now and one step from spending our evenings in the dark. No telly, no Internet, no nothing that would require good, old lecky.

Thinking about it, I've got my grandfather's old radio up in the loft, the wind-up variety...

Anyway, Max has got us one of those free electricity meters. It tells you how many pennies it takes to boil the kettle or to use the microwave. Or to run the fridge. To live, basically.

As a result, tap water is now healthier than a hot cup of tea and microwaving food gives you cancer. And the fridge is on its lowest setting.

The computer eats about 2p an hour so if we work 8 hours a day, so many days a year, we'll be able to claim a £XX deduction on our tax returns. Can't be bothered to work this out. But then, I don't have to - Max will.

I might just point out that the evil device has to be plugged in to give us a reading...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The piggy bank

We may be lucky to have no carpets in the house but this poses a problem. As in: things disapear between the floorboards rather frequently.

We have, I'm sure, amassed a collection of paperclips and what-have-yous this way and I don't lose sleep over an odd coin either. Just can't be bothered.

But it was different the other day, when a lonely pound coin escaped Max's pocket (how did it do that?!) and rolled, and rrrolled... All the way across the hallway, coming to rest eventually - you guessed it - under the floorboards!

What happened next involved an old coathanger, then a lever of sorts, and an amusing half an hour from where I was standing. The coin is still there...

Monday, 7 June 2010

Wipe me, baby, one more time...

The other thing about cats is that they vomit a lot, usually for no obvious reason. And, usually in a sneaky place so you only find it a week or so later.

I suppose we're lucky to have no carpets in the house so it's only a matter of detecting, scooping and wiping the floor clean. It's not much bother, really, you just use a damp cloth, then go over with a piece of paper kitchen towel. Voila!

And, if you are Max, you can always dry this piece of paper towel in the airing cupboard or on the radiator, and use it again...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

The pooper-scooper

When you've got four cats who don't go out at night, going down to the kitchen first thing in the morning is not a pleasant experience.

They've got three litter trays between them, by the back door, and make full use of them, like the good little boys and girls they are. They dig and cover the doo-dah, so enthusiastically in fact that on occasion a little nugget (or two) and half a ton of litter end up five feet away, right in the middle of the kitchen floor. And that's what you see, when you come down to our kitchen first thing in the morning.

So, you pick up the nuggets, sweep the floor, and then YOU get to do the digging, with the pooper-scooper.

The only thing is, with so many cats who will not go and soil the neighbours' garden even during the day, the litter gets expensive. So you sift it with the pooper-scooper and make sure that what's sort of clean goes back to the trays and is used again.

The only thing is, how much you can save is down to the quality of your pooper-scooper. We have experimented with many over the years but not even one has come up to scratch so far.

Not too worry. Max's downstairs, drilling more holes in our latest digging tool, to make it more economical.

Shall I suggest brushing off the little nuggets too? I wonder...

Thursday, 27 May 2010


Now we're both set up to work from home, Max has declared we don't need two cars. Which is a reasonable proposition, considering the beginnings are difficult and the money is thight. And considering the cost of insurance, servicing etc, and the odd re-spray after the local riffraff have been out on their bikes again. Two months ago, Max had the front bumper on his car re-sprayed and other bits touched up, which meant parting with £300. When needs must...

But, not having to drive to work, we're now saving on fuel, putting in £5 at a time (£10 at most), in case the prices drop tomorrow... Still, his car guzzles more than mine so it would have to go.

A note went up in his car's window, inviting offers and... nobody's interested. No one's phoned, not a peep. And then a good neighbour called: "Better come out. Your car's all over the road...".

It wasn't quite that bad. The front bumper was ripped off (lights, cables and all) but the main bodywork wasn't badly damaged. The police and the insureres are after the culprit - the good neighbour had seen the whole thing happen. Which means, other than the hassle of it all, the repair shouldn't cost us a thing... "Had I known, I could have saved myself 300 quid!", said Max and I mumbled something about this curious thing called "hindsight"...

Monday, 24 May 2010

The shitty bastards

Max and I were lying in bed yesterday morning, arguing over whose turn it was to make breakfast. I was thinking I should probably do it anyway, if I wanted a decent cup of coffee (his usual offering is on the stingy side, as in: you can count the grains in the cafetiere...). Besides, I didn't like the look of his fingernails: strangely green and crusty (bogies??). Then I remembered him in the garden the previous evening, scraping the last of the green paint out of an old tin, painting the bird table.

One raised eyebrow later (as we often communicate without words, just like that...) and he stuck his head out of the bedroom window. "Bloody, bloody pigeons! Bastards! Shitty, shitty bastards!". I reckoned it was worth investigating...

The shitty bastards left a thank-you note: a big white splat against the fresh green, winking up at Max: "Oi, mate, any more of that green paint left?". Dejected, Max wasn't getting up any time soon. "One of them must have seen there was no food and left me his opinion... shitty, shitty bastard!". At this point we heard urgent cooing below us: "And the shitter's harassing me now!" I thought he was probably leaving him another opinion (the paint was so old it went nuclear, maybe?) but kept my mouth shut.

There's nothing like a good, nuclear-strength coffee first thing in the morning...

The bird table is bright red now. No more old tins in the shed. No more pigeons?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The first time

The first time I met Max I had to pay for my own drink. Fair enough, it was a training day in the office (on a lunch break), and not a date, but it was obvious we were getting to know each other. The first time we did go on a date, it was no different. The barman kept ignoring him, apparently.

The first time he took me to Paris, he picked our "hotel" from the Lonely Planet. Ok, it was a few years back but (I'm not kidding you) it cost £15 a night. I still remember the wee-stained candlewick bedspread, the suspect clientele and the rottweiler behind the reception desk. The receptionist wasn't much more welcoming either. And don't even get me started on the toilet-in-the-room arrangement.

The first time I clapped my eyes on my engagement ring, I turned into that rottweiler. In my head, that is. Outwardly I remained calm and collected and accepted graciously. Six months of gentle prodding later I got what I wanted, making Max £3,000 poorer in the process. No mean feat considering the original offering was closer to £500.

Why did I marry him? Because he would always come and rescue me from the jungle (cheaper than sending in the troops...). And because he'd give me his last kidney, if need be. He'd probably try and sew it in personally, too.... You guessed it, it'd be cheaper this way...

But, above all, I married him because he makes me laugh. Good, old-fashioned belly-laughs, every time he opens his mouth and says: "How much?!"