Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A Handbag?

You can tell a lot about a man, they say, by the shoes he wears. What can you tell about a woman by her handbag and the contents thereof??
Well lets see.

 I like a nice bag as much as the next woman , but I don't understand the whole designer bag thing. It's just somewhere to carry your stuff. I bought this number on Ebay. I wanted brown but got a sort of bronze. It's not my favourite and because of it's size and the ample pocket allowance the temptation is to FILL IT WITH STUFF.

What stuff I hear you ask? A lot , lot of stuff.

this all came out of one bag. I have also decluttered it recently.

A pile of receipts, some personal ( bin) some business ( file) a few leaflets and vouchers I will never use (bin)

I change bags rarely, and even then usually not fully. So I have bags with stuff in for months or years, a lipstick here, a packet of tissues there. 

 No less than 4 purses. One of them belongs to my middle child, but the other 3 are mine, and all contain cash.  Two bank books for accounts where I have no/minimal money. I've been carrying these for 6 months or so. A fold up shopping bag, essential.

Yep, you can see 4 different types/ brands of tissue. I am a mummy, I need tissues. The rude ones were donated to my stash by my sister. they were too naughty for her to use. I have no idea why she thought I would like them ... I try not to use them on the children, but hey, no one died.

Here we can see some of my stationery stash.

Two pens - not that many for me 

a mini pack of pencils, crayons, all escaped from their box, a diary and 2 notebooks, a story book a green tea bag, mints and gum (in case I'm likely to get a snog- not likely) a hair clip and a clothes peg (?)

A book on witchcraft and some purple suede gloves just in case I need to keep the yummy mummies away.

 A minion, a bracelet a hand crochet phone cover ( with a 3rd notebook inside) some pants, medicinal compound and wham balm ( two of my everyday therapy products) and some sunglasses.

I also have a make up bag, some escaped make up and a lovely set of highlighters.

What I think this says about me is that I am tidy, organised, friendly charming and sexy. What do you think ? 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Run Tracey Run

In my New Year Blog  I decided that I was just perfect the way I am ( ha!). This however bizarrely proved not to be true. I am a middle aged woman with all of the joyous stuff that entails; middle aged spread, insomnia, digestive issues, hormone issues- hurrah!

this is me eating my words

Time to take myself in hand I thought. I rejoined Slimming World, although just online ( I don't recommend that method) as previously going to group had melted my brain sufficiently to put me off for life. I lost around 9lbs, eventually. Upping my fruit and veg intake helped with my energy levels and digestion, but it wasn't enough. What about exercise I thought? What about it? I HATE EXERCISE. I don't like getting dirty, or sweaty or out of my comfort zone or out of breath.  This was going well.

What about Couch to 5K ? I naively thought. It's a running programme for absolute beginners to get you from couch potato to running 5K in 9 short and painful weeks.

Painful they are. You are eased very gently into the programme building up from running a mere 60 or 90 seconds in the first weeks up and up with more running and less walking until you can run for 30 minutes or 5K without stopping. Wee buns.

So despite disbelief, alarm and much hilarity amongst my family and friends Himself and I began the C25K challenge. I run Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday every week. I am in the middle of week 6. I have "run" for 20 whole minutes without stopping. It hurts, I sweat, I pant and I wobble, but I can do it.

So, any morning you happen to be in Victoria park and see a wobbly sweaty middle aged woman dragging her feet around the park while singing Taylor Swift aloud, gimme a wave, I might need the encouragement.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Dating Game

I haven't dated for some time ( thankfully). From what I hear the life of the single woman over 30 is still as confusing and hazardous as it was back in the day. Online dating is an excellent way to meet people, but as some friends have experienced, it is as fraught and cringeworthy as ever it was.

A friend was researching dating sites recently and came across Beautiful People, where "every member who contacts you will be gorgeous". How marvelous. The catch is you have to have your photo scrutinised by current "beautiful" members before you  can join to determine if you are beautiful enough. Yep that's a real site. I'm sure the people on it have just been unlucky with their previous unattractive partners. allows you to join even if you aren't a super model.You can have a free profile which allows you to search members and "try before you buy". There is a bizarre profile feature that asks members to disclose any habits to potential dates . One guy picks his toenails. Why would you disclose that? Surely you want someone to date you? If that's what you are disclosing what are you hiding, ugh!

I know of several single men who are finding partners far and wide through
Plenty More Fish where you can sign up for Over 40 dating, single parent dating, or "naughty fish" for the openminded...... . It is free, and no strings sex seems to be readily available so LTRs are not necessarily the aim of the members.

Then there's the usernames. I'm not sure about you but I think "Hannah-loves-horses" might get more potential matches, and matches with potential than for example "Screamsalot" or "DirtyDave". A friend of mine has been having an on off romance for several years with a man she refers to only by his user name which is unfortunately "Sticky".

When signing in to WiFi in our home we can see the neighbours various options. The unpleasant and odd single male neighbour has named his "Route-her? I hardly know her". Strange he's not been snapped up.

 I wonder how those of us who have been out of the game for some time might fare if suddenly thrust into the scary world of online dating? Given that perfectly normal teenagers are now selling themselves short on Tinder, the hope of meeting a decent, kind, reliable mate with GSOH for LTR is slim at best.

We spend a lot more time in life in relationships than in work, choosing a life partner is  a serious business. I think online dating should be treated like a job interview. Spend time on your profile, make yourself look dateable, and not desperate.Turn up on time, dress smart, prepare to ask and answer lots of questions, tell them all the good things about you, don't mention your ex, your kids or your debts. If, like some of the companies I've interviewed for recently, they are shabby, dull or rude don't take the job.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Dump, Donate or Redeploy.

I am a clutterbug, my beloved is a clutterbug ( although a tidier one) so are my 3 daughters. Our home is groaning with the weight of "stuff" we have accumulated in the 3 years we have been living here. It's easy for me to get rid of things that don't belong to me, but I struggle to deal with my own bulging drawers, shelves and cupboards.

This isn't a particularly bad one....
For those of you who have Facebook, the "Timehop" app will greet you each morning with the posts that you were sharing this day last year and all previous years you were on Facebook. Mostly they don't make any sense and are not worth reading, much less sharing, but the odd time they trigger a memory and raise a smile. A few weeks ago my Timehop shared my post from the same day in May 2009. It stated " I've got a skip and I know how to use it". I remember that time well. I felt like I do now, that my life needed a shake up, that I was bogged down in stuff. I was single, living with my daughter and felt like I needed a new start.

I ordered a skip and proceeded to shake up my life. I am a great believer in "cosmic gestures". I believe you need to physically and mentally make room in your life for a new friend, new relationship, new baby or new job before it comes to you. My skip was me telling the universe  "off with the old, bring on the new" Within 6 months I had a new relationship, was pregnant with our daughter, and had moved house and jobs- Whoosh!

I am in the same zone right now. My eldest daughter is finishing school and  starting University after the summer, my middle one starting school in September. It's time for me to shake up my life , to tug all the old stuff from under the beds, off the top of the wardrobes and the back of the cupboards and show the universe that I am ready. Ready for a new challenge, a new start and hopefully a tidier home.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

My Manifesto

Let's face it , the current league of over privileged gentlemen in power  in London , and the rabble of bigots, hypocrites ex-cons and fanatics who hold the reins in Northern Ireland are less than inspiring. I am utterly bored with the tit for tat sniping and one-up-man-ship that seems to be politics these days.

I have a solution, let me rule the country! It's already in a mess, most people are deeply unhappy about at least one thing they have no control over and none of the current options are remotely inspiring.  What's the worst that could happen? Here's what I would do if I could.


Introduce further compulsory subjects in school to GCSE-
at least one one language ,
cookery including nutrition
running a home, including financial planning,
driving and maintaining a car,
 parenting .

Shorter school holidays-
seriously 8/9 weeks in the summer, who needs that?
Young people who leave school at 16  would need to work, do an apprenticeship or  go into further education , no benefits.
All 18 year-olds would do 1 years national service, either in the military the Police service or in the community.
Free University or further education for all, providing they can hold down a part-time job and keep their grades over a C average.

All  of those found guilty of a crime should perform some sort of recompense to their victims.
Automatic rehab for drug and alcohol related offenders.
Custodial criminals to live in basic but comfortable conditions.
No TV computer or phone access unless it is earned by rehabilitation and recompense to society.
All prisoners to have a library, access to education and exercise, as well as good nutrition.

State Benefits
I don't believe that our current benefit system is working. Those who are capable of work should work."Jobseekers" need to be looking for work, not watching TV and taking kids to school still in their pyjamas. I would pay benefits for a couple of months if someone loses their job, after that they would need to be doing something to improve society to earn their keep. Making dinner for old people, painting park benches, clearing litter and grafitti, cutting grass. This would spur those who want a job back into work and those who are too lazy would realise life is not a free ride.

I'm all for it. Northern Ireland is infinitely richer and with a greatly improved gene pool since the arrival of  immigrants from the EU and beyond. In my experience immigrants do a lot more to integrate into our culture than we do to try and understand theirs. They work, pay taxes, bring up their children well and bilingual. What's not to like?
I do not believe in an open door for the poor and disenfranchised of the world to come and claim benefits and free healthcare however. People who wish to benefit from living in the UK need to be contributing to the UK through taxes and labour.
Refugees of all nations need to be helped by us, and all the wealthy nations. It's partly our fault the world is in such a mess, our government needs to use it's influence on the other  G20 members and think about the people who are victims through no fault of their own.

This is an important one. I am not crazy about the game, but I know a few who are. Football, to me, says a lot about what is wrong with our society. It is expensive, elitist and unfair.
Young men are paid countless millions to kick a ball about when children in our country are living below the breadline.
Cap the wages, take sponsorship, and opportunities away from those who commit serious crimes. Punish thuggish behaviour with proper fines. Fining a premier league footballer £100,000 is like fining you or me £10. It means nothing.

This is my best idea, only let those who were born within 50 miles of a club to play for them. Geordies for Newcastle, Scousers for Liverpool. Can you imagine a team getting to the top of the league because of talent, drive and training rather than  Italians?
Imagine going to St James' Park on a saturday afternoon to watch the Newcastle Derby with only Geordies and Mackams playing. Spending £10 on a ticket and getting a pie in the interval. Wonderful. Bring back the beautiful game.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Art is Dead, Long Live Art.

Imagine with me a future where painters can only buy two colours, actors spend their whole working lives playing the same part, dancers only "street dance" and musicians only play songs written for them and do not compose. Sounds horrendous, no? Yet this is exactly what seems to be happening in fiction publishing.

 Large scale publishing is killing literature. I get that it needs to be profitable , but at what cost?  If you write you will one day look into publishing your work. What you get from publishers , online writer's resources and agents is a long list of what they do not want. Publishers do not want , wizards, vampires, rhymes, short romantic heroes,  too long, too short, too many or too few chapters. They want a cover letter, biography and synopsis, correct spelling, punctuation and grammar and they want to be grabbed from the first sentence. No pressure then. If you choose to write for children the list of do's and don't's is even longer. Publishers expect you to research your audience, to craft your writing to fit in to a particular genre, age group and educational stage and to still be original ,entertaining and most importantly sale-able.  

If you have written a bestseller however, all of that goes out the window. They will publish any old dross you pump out. They will send you on book tours, into schools and expect to find yourself on the sofa with Ruth and Eamon; not to mention fighting off all of those Hollywood film offers. Publishers are not interested in good books, they are interested on marketable writers and best selling books.

The music industry  is going the same way. You only have to think of the previous winners of shows like the X-Factor to see the industry is eating itself. It is so busy giving us what it thinks we want that it is dying on it's feet. The moguls cry no one is buying music anymore, but why is that? Could it be because when a record company gets hold of a young artist they push them to produce, to tour to appear at the opening of all the envelopes. They tell them what to perform , what to wear, who to be. Is it any wonder they burn out, drop out and lose their muse? Creativity is an organic thing , it needs to be fed and nurtured. The best way to kill creativity in my humble opinion is to try to make it into a formula.

I used to think self -publishing through companies like Blurb and Createspace from Amazon was just a vanity project for those who refuse to believe their work isn't good enough to be published, but I have changed my mind. I think it's the future. If you have any talent and you put the work in sooner or later people will take notice. Why whore yourself out to publishers and agents who's primary interest is frankly, their own advancement and profit? 


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Hire Me!

I am on the hunt again. Domestic drudgery and full time child care is really not my bag so I need to work. I do have a job, the managers and my colleagues are great, but it's not a good fit for me. I am BORED!

I dread the over complicated and repetitive applications I am forced to write, especially those who want a "full employment history"
here are some of the jobs I have had since I left school

Junior in a hairdressers- hair is surprisingly smelly.
Running the family B&B( mostly turning the hoover on and lying on the beds)
Housekeeping supervisor in a London Hotel ( see above)
Bar maid in Yorkshire "Let's have a real Guinness poured by the Irish barmaid" cue my blushes as they watch me pour two measured half pints into a glass by pressing a button.
Child minder ( disaster)
Cafe Manager
Restaurant Manager
Restaurant supervisor
Receptionist in sunbed place. I had a good tan back then.
Drinks waiter in one of Belfast's first gay clubs (where I was viciously attacked by a crazy lesbian because I turned my back on her )
Beauty therapist
Aromatherapist and Reflexologist ( I am fully qualified)
Salon Manager
Self employed recruiter for beauty staff
Self employed domestic ironer/ cleaner with small team.
Telemarketing team leader
Door to door and phone survey monkey
Sales administrator
Tour guide, people rounder upper and mover-alonger, Titanic fact aficionado
Enquiries officer medical company
Receptionist medical company
Firewarden walkie-talkie killjoy ( current position).

I am sure there are more I have long forgotten, most of them I enjoyed for a time , but boredom is a problem for me. That and years and years of being a bottom rung employee. There is nothing wrong with being at the bottom, after all someone has to do the work. Unfortunately even in this day and age employers see employees as a number, dispensable, disposable and fairly worthless. Apart from the very smallest companies who generally realise the value of a good employee and seek to keep those  they have trained.

I think I should be an employee consultant. A manager of mine told me once I was a great advocate for the staff, every company needs me!

This is what I would tell employers,

Hire staff well before you expect to be busy, so they are trained to cope when you are.

Employ young people and retirees, great for a balance of enthusiasm and experience

Don't ask stupid interview questions ( "who is your favourite Lion King character"- I was asked this once; or "what do you know about the company", "er whatever I have read on your website.")

Have a good staff room. Keep it stocked up and have  a cleaner. A large table in the middle of the room is best for staff relations. all staff should use it including managers. occasionally buy lunch/ fruit/ cakes for everyone.

Know everyone's names. Have social events regularly- not always alcohol related.

Provide proper training- not "shadowing."  Real training by someone who is accountable should that training be unsuccessful or incomplete.

After 3 months in the job ask your new recruits what they love about the job and what they hate. Aim to give them more of  what they love and  less of what they hate. There will be other employees who are their polar opposites.

If the company is doing great, tell your staff. The same if it is doing badly. Ask your staff what to do to get more sales/ footfall/members, or how to save on outgoings.

Do not excuse lateness, but always aim to give time off requested.

Reward a job well done, every time. If someone's performance is waning ask them why.

Job swap with your lowest paid staff at least once a year.

Always stick up for your staff in the face of public criticism, but get to the bottom of complaints.

Pass compliments on to your team.

So if you know of anyone who is looking for an employee who can tell them exactly where they are going wrong, gimme a call :-)