Friday, 28 October 2011

Yikes - the new blog is ready!

Hello everyone

Welcome to this old post which is a poor show on my part what with you making the effort to get here and everything.

Please don't give up.  I now have a blog which has a theme and everything and it's called Where Things Are Mostly Cheerful because generally they are.

So, if you like the thought of nice sit down with a 1939 copy of Woman's Own, do come and visit. Because Reader, that's what it's all about.

It's a little blog about old British magazines and we all have quite the loveliest time.

Yours kindly,
Henrietta Bird

Friday, 14 October 2011

Coming Soon...

I know, I know, this blog is hopelessly neglected. It's a rum do and that's a fact.  (You've been watching Downton again haven't you? Ed).

Anyway, this is just to post up that I'm working on a new blog at the moment - one that will actually have stuff on it more than once a year.  It's going to have lots Specific Things and A Theme and everything.

I know. Get me!

Hopefully it will be ready in a week or so and I'll put the link up here in case you'd like to take a look at it.

There will, of course, be cake.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Go Vintage? Or Go On A Diet?

I've decided to jetison this century and go vintage.

Apropo of nothing I'm embracing the '30's. Not Hitler's bit of it obviously, or rationing for that matter (Good Lord: two entire sentences before you mentioned food: well done, Ed) but things like fashion and books and wearing what posh people used to call 'hets'.

It's all rather glamorous and dignified so I think it's My Thing.

I had a bit of a false start when I nearly spent part of my buying a new house money on a 1935 Humber that had been parked up in an episode of Poirot. 'Where would you get it serviced?' asked A Man Who Knows About Cars. 'And they don't take unleaded you know.'

Really? Lawks.

Boring, but a good point. So I decided to set my sights a bit lower and look for a frock.

I emailed my friend Mrs H8 (so called for her fascination with The Most Exciting Of Kings) and told her I was hitting the interweb for outfits to turn me into Wallace Simpson. I knew she'd be keen as Living In The Wrong Decade is one of our best joint peculiarities.

'What do you think?' I wrote, pretending I was using a clickety typewriter rather than a laptop where the spacekeysticksduetosomejam. 'It'll be like being the Queen Mum (the Bonham Carter version, not the real one with the frightening teeth).We can wear hets and everything.'

'Hmm,' she replied. 'I think we're more likely to look like Victoria Wood in one of those dramas where she has a wraparound apron and makes her own lard.'

Mrs H8 can be realistic, if hurtful, at times.

But demmit, she was right. It turns out that due to malnutrition or the absence of Tesco, back in the day no one was fat.

I know. How depressing is that? You can't get any kind of a vintage frock if you have more than a 32 inch chest. And seeing as the last time I had that I had just joined The Brownies, things are looking quite grim.

Instead then, I've had to turn to that old Fatties' Staple - jewellery. It turns out that you can get no end of stuff (Would the correct word be 'tat'? Ed) for very little money.  So I'm starting small but going to build up.

I think it's gone rather well.

Until just now, when I happened to see this:

It's only £6,000.

I'll get my coat. And obviously, my het.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Book Review: Pale & Interesting by Atlanta Bartlett & Dave Coote

You know Jasper Fforde’s Tuesday Next spends loads of time living in books? She’s always having to sort out Heathcliff and stop Japanese tourists from changing the plots? Well, In An Ideal World, I would live in a book by Atlanta Bartlett.

Pale & Interesting is her latest – with Dave Coote. I’m sure Dave is lovely but Atlanta’s the star for me. A few years ago I bought The Relaxed Home by her and ever since then I’ve been painting things white and trying to look whimsical. Honestly, some of my happiest moments have been spent trying to distress a perfectly calm candelabra.

Anyway, the new book was mentioned in Country Homes and Interiors which I was reading as I have delusions of becoming middle class and changing my name to Jocasta. And my friends, it’s a gem! What that woman can’t do with a bit of old sheeting and a jam jar she found in the garden you could write on the back of a stamp.

The whole book is like walking into the world all of us would live in if dogs, children, horses, ribena, old people and marmite didn’t exist.

It's all so lovely. Pages and pages of whiteness and peonies and candles and vintage and silk things and mirrors which have gone all mottled and spooky. Haaaaah, (I just did a big sigh). And just when you think it can’t get any better, she hangs an antique tea dress on the outside of a cupboard and suddenly you’re having tea with the Mitfords and being effortlessly droll.

Can you hear me Atlanta? I WANT THAT TO BE ME!!!

I want to live on page 42 where I will become opulent yet low-key and I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!

I am going to change…

I won’t ever be irritable or get shouty or sweary. I will sit on your elegant day bed which is old but contemporary and I’ll pretend I’m in Paris with a wig so big it has its own mouse.

I will salvage and collect and learn to use the word texture. I will sell the dog and ban red wine at all times.

Of course, there is one down side: I may never read fiction again. I’m just going to look at the pictures in Pale & Interesting and escape to my own world and be winsome and chic.

And I’ll never drop ketchup on anything ever again.

5 lovely big stars ....probably sitting on a mantelpiece by a twig.

Pale & Interesting by Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote, Ryland Peters and Small. You can buy it from Amazon here.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Alfred and Henry: Great British Pluck

Well, it's been an emotional week here at Bird Towers and that's a fact.  First it was the last ever episode of The Tudors and as if this wasn't enough, Alfred The Wonder Dog had a special day out at the vets to have his wahoohahs removed.

I don't know which will be missed more. (Speak for yourself mate. Mr A Dog).

Did someone say something? Anyway, happily, I can reassure Alfred's legions of fans (now peaking at 2) that he is doing very well and you wouldn't really know what has happened.  (Excuse me, I'd like to lodge a complaint. Mr A V.Cross Dog)

The only difference to the outside world is his new habit of looking doubly tragic when I stop to chat with people I know in the village. Men in particular have taken to ruffling his head like you did to poor children in the olden days, and then going all gruff and emotional at him. Plus, I'm relatively sure I'm now known as Cruella de Ville which wasn't the plan at all.

Anyway, Alfred has been a smashing brave tiger and is going to be fine...even if I have lost all my friends.

And still on the subject of stiff upper lip, back in the real world of Telly, I have to say Henry VIII's last episode was a total damp squib. Apart from Jonathan Rhys's Peanut Butter Cups' hilarious decision to combine the speaking voices of Winston Churchill and Phil out of Eastenders via Dublin, there was nearly nothing much to roar at, at all. I only perked up when the great master Holbein revealed his famous full length portrait of the king.  They'd bravely tried to make it look like Our Jonathan but the result was one of those pictures everyone has to go boss eyed at until somebody pretends they can make out a dolphin.


Mind you, this maverickly bonkers series hasn't entirely let us down.  Apparently there's a The Tudors iPhone Game.

I know! What?! Is this what one of our most celebrated monarchs and the founder of the Church of England has become?

Exactly: Angry Birds in Tights.

Alfred my friend, on balance I think your week hasn't been that bad at all.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Brilliant Things for a Very Good Reason

I know, I promised lists of Cheerful Things and haven't done one yet. Boo and chiz all round.

However, in lieu (and some) of that, I'm posting about the wonderful Authors For Japan. It's a lovely idea and full of brilliant stuff for writers and readers and, well, people who just love books.

I have used their logo without permission but hopefully (and if you haven't been on there already) you'll click on the link above and have a look.

It's rather exciting. Currently I'm in the lead for my name being used for a character in one of the fabulous Kate Harrison's future books.  I know....that's probably as close as I'll get to being published! Wahey!

Of course you can get a bit carried away.  A dear friend of mine was considering bidding on a critique for a book she isn't actually writing. See - inspiring!

Absolute fair play to all the authors and experts who have donated their time, books and artwork. Out of truly unimaginable horror, how lovely when people do what they can. 

PS: If you want to just donate directly or if you get outbid on something, you can go directly to The Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal here.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Coming Soon: Cheerfulness!

Yesterday I was reading a blog that listed things to post on your blog. Top of the list was A List. Frankly I thought that was a bit of a cheat.

In a mood I stormed off to watch telly where Lenny Henry was living by an open sewer in Africa. It was awful. They made Angela Rippon live in a slum and I cried. Not about Angela as she was quite cheerful, but about the slum. Obviously no one should have to live like that. (Not even Angela, despite her rubbish skating in this year's Dancing On Ice Prelims). So I cried. Then Lenny cried. Then the man running the sewer cried. And he was the only one that had the right to as the rest of us don't live there.

So, anyway I was ashamed of being cross about The List Debacle and decided to cheer up.

And do a list.

Or if people like them, possibly more. Based on previous quality standards on this blog, they're not likely to be big, funny or clever but I'm going to to my best as I think we need a bit of pluck in These Difficult Times. What do you think? Do let me know won't you?

First off though, don't panic. In case it looks as if I've become almost Americanly positive, obviously I will be providing other far less positive lists.

Yes. Phew wees all round.

For example, I am quite looking forward to Things I Am Disappointed With But Haven't Done Anything About. That could be quite a long one. Also, Observations About The Weather By A Stranger That I Pretend To Be Amazed At In Order To Be Polite. Again, potentially long.

Anyway, I shall try to do my best for morale and seeing as we won't have any libraries, it will, at least, be something to read.

For now though, here is a link to Comic Relief so you don't have to sit in a bucket of baked beans and can just click through and give them some money.

Please do. It's bad enough people have to live in a slum, without them being sent people off of Eastenders who will insist on a hug. Erch.

Thank you!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Beethoven Lives (Part 1)

I know: ahhhhhh.

Now, I hope a bit of dog blogging (which we'd better not shorten to 'dogging') isn't going to bore you (do post a comment if it does), but the the first thing I should say is that the one on the left GREW.

Rather A LOT.

Who'd have known? One minute he's the size of a box of Kleenex (and conveniently, just as absorbant), the next, people are grabbing their children and asking me why Fatima Whitbread is wearing a puppy suit?

It's fair to say Alfred Is Large.

Which means that as the admittedly clueless owner of such enormousness, I've started some training.

To be fair, I have been doing my my best. These days it's rare you'll see me leave the house without a large bag of sausage and a variety of whistles. Sometimes I even have the dog with me as well.

(Boom boom.)


But now I've called in the professionals. (Ed: This is an excuse to talk about Bodie again isn't it? ). (Me: Bum, I've been rumbled). Anyway, a very nice lady is helping. Or more truthfully, a very nice lady is getting the dog to be obedient while I stand there eating the sausage. (I might as well, they'll only go off).

Then I have a go and it's not always as impressive.

So far it's been a rollercoaster. Just like with children, apparently you're supposed to Pro-Actively Ignore bad behaviour. Which usually results in the following:

Trainer (calmly): 'Just ignore him.'
Me (hysterically): 'But he's eating a really big tree.'
Trainer (even more calmly): 'Don't worry it's probably OK.'
Me (about to faint): 'What do you mean probably?'
Dog (slightly worried): 'I think I need to go to the toilet.'

On the other hand, if I manage to get him to do something right we do Positive Something Or Another.

Trainer (looking amazed): 'Blimey. Quick - praise him.'
Me (being British): 'Good effort old sport.'
Trainer (shrieking): 'PRAISE HIM, PRAISE HIM.'
Me (not realising trainer is religious): 'Oh. Right. Er...thank you God?'
Dog (depressed): 'Why did I get the one that's an idiot?'

Oh dear.

I'll let you know if it gets better. Meanwhile, if you need any heavy digging done...Alfred has very cheap rates.

PS: Our trainer is actually fab. And Very. Very. Patient!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Boinggggg...there goes my bodice


There I was at Paddington, train delayed and all a bit boring and suddenly I was walking out of WHSmith with A Regency Romance.

As I say. Cripes!

Stap, about legs akimbo. Yowzah! I don't remember Norah Lofts' heroines (or heroes either) being quite so, er...bendy?

Admittedly, I'm out of touch and base all knowledge of anything post Robin Hood and pre-Downton Abbey (thank goodness - a mention) on the mighty Poldark. Let's be honest, the most heated it ever got then was a quick 'I say Demelze,' followed by a breathless 'Oooh Ross,' and that was that. Jolly fast edit over to someone talking about hunting.

Not any more, I can tell you. He is tall, dark, chisled and Every Woman's Fantasy (despite smelling of lurcher). She is tall, dark and clearly does a lot of Pilates. Either that or she's what we used to call double jointed. Fair play m'lady.

And while we're at it (a poor choice of words. Ed.) what about BBC2's The Tudors which is now at Episode #612 and somewhere around 1972? I'm beginning to think they've gone all 24 and done it in real time.

Our Henry is now fifty but apart from the occasional limp (choice of leg variable), still looks about thirty one. Clearly, the BBC have spend loads of money on the costumes as they're fab. Sadly, it means nothing left for prosthetics apart from some Tipex someone has smeared on his head. Brilliant! Oh and they've made him a bit beardy. BAFTA Best Make Up in the bag then.

I can't wait for this week's episode for further subtle aging. As Henry became horribly obese in later life do look out for a BBC cushion up his jerkin. Wife number six? Brace yourself!

Friday, 11 February 2011

What Do You Mean, Where Were You?

You know the last post? The one about getting a puppy and doing a puppy blog that would be made into a Hit Film a bit like 101 Dalmations only with less of a cast? Well, I've been a bit slow off the mark.

And now the ickle guy weighs five stone and smokes twenty B&H's a day. So I've missed the puppy boat by the tiniest margin and will have to bring you up to speed with everything else.

After all, loads has happened. I mean tons. No, really, it's been mad. Well, busy. Busy-ish. Alright, quite slow. Look, nothing has happened at all.

That's clear then. But I'm back for another bash and it's virtually the summer and even though I've missed an entire season of Simon Cowell's shiny teeth to marvel at, I think we can start things off again.

I will be reporting on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (the telly programme, not my own personal nuptials), offering deep political insight on world affairs (Egypt has cracked on and jolly well done them; the UK has shut all its libraries, so jolly poor show the toffs etc) and offering culinary tips that put Nigella right in the shade (dunk biscuits in brandy, glue them together with chocolate custard and hey presto it's a pudding).

Now if that's not a renaissance blog for you, then I don't know what is.

Oh - and if there's the slightest opportunity to mention Downton Abbey, you have my very best word that thy will, er, will be done. Oooh look - a picture!

I'd love to know what you think of the blog and do let me know if there are any topics you'd like In An Ideal World to cover. Honestly, it'll be like having your very own Andrew Marr. OK...maybe not quite.

Thanks for visiting and hope to see you again soon.


Sunday, 8 August 2010

There's Been A Bit Of A Lull

Anyway. First it was 2009 and I did blogging and talked about Things, which meant mostly telly and sometimes peg bags, but mostly telly. Actually almost entirely Robin Hood and X Factor and that one with him out of The Professionals which no one can understand. Rrrrr rrrrr rrrrr rrrrr rr! Yes, Mr Ray Doyle Only In The 1960's. What did he say? Oh, he's doing an accent. I thought it was code.

Then it was 2010 and I moved house and ate Hobnobs and hurt my back and didn't blog about Things at all. Which was poor but I don't think anyone noticed so that's alright. And I didn't run for government on a platform of crisps even though I said I would. Still, Pringles aren't cheap and in these Difficult Times I'd never have lasted the 4 years.

So, it meant Cameron Diaz is nowPrime Minister instead which I'm OK about as I went off the idea of a political career once I realised you don't get to wear hats like Jackie Kennedy any more. Boo.

Now, as an update since then, absolutely nothing has happened so there's no news and they've cancelled Robin Hood so I've nothing to talk about. So, there is no point at all to this post, but just to say here is a picture of a puppy. Ignore the fact he looks like a small bear. Miss De Vil at the puppy farm (kidding...pfff!) has assured me he is definitely a Golden Retriever and will be Offically The Loveliest Thing Ever.

When he arrives here (I'll be going to get him - he's not having to get the bus on his own or anything) I may start doing puppy posts. Naturally, they will become a phenomenon and eventually we'll all enjoy them in a film where Jennifer Anniston wears shorts and remains 32 almost indefinitely. Hmm.

So, back again soon with puppiness - and hopefully having finished first draft of The Book That Never Finishes by then too. (It's like The House At Pooh Corner only less kangaroos).

Crisps though - yum!

Thursday, 14 January 2010


I think I've just had a religious experience.

No, not the unwrapping of my new netbook (it's so diddy!) but the jaw dropping moment of TV History when Stephen (Usual Suspects, er... that's it) Baldwin introduced Jordan's Boyfriend Alex to God. And Jesus. And Faith. (Calm down Pricey, it's a belief, not some woman you'll have to bash up at a night club).

Hilarious. In fact, possibly the funniest telly so far this year. And that includes the other night when modest cage fighter Alex announced that seeing as he is no longer in the army he now plans to use his celebrity to end wars and bring peace.

Yes, really. I'm not making this up.

Makes you wish you had Sky Plus though doesn't it? I for one could happily gawk at both incidents again and again and again. Hopefully by the ninth or tenth viewing I would stop going red at the horror though I can't be sure.

I tell you, it's really tested my new year resolution to watch Question Time weekly and not just when someone funny is on. (Actually, you could argue that's pretty much every week anyway). How can I watch Kenneth Clark wearing Terry Wogan's hair when Celebrity(ish) Big Brother is on? It's just so hard to be a brainiac when twelve people I've never heard of are locked in a house and forced to try and do the washing up. In tonight's episode - other than the second coming of God - a grumpy young person refused to do the washing up as it would take her 'like fucking all day' (well it was a spoon and a saucepan - nightmare) while another grumpy young person audaciously ate a corned beef sandwich even though it made Vinnie 'Soccer Hardman' Jones cross.

Dear me - and they say 'Allo 'Allo was a low point.

Anyway, Grumpy Washing Up Young Person is going out with one of the Rolling Stones, which in itself shows a lack of judgement remarkable even by complete and utter nit wit standards. She picked the one that looks even more like a scarecrow than all the others which I appreciate doesn't narrow it down by much but I'm afraid you'll have to do your best on this one.

Of course, the wife he left for the current Mrs Gummidge has already done her reality penance by spending several weeks pre-Christmas being hauled around a dance floor by Brendan with the hair who is From Australia. And inevitably Brendan had been on another reality show himself. They don't do it anymore due to complaints by human rights protestors but it was the one where they all got sent to a desert island with George Best's son until somebody cracked. Well you would, wouldn't you? I'd give myself seven minutes before volunteering to be waterboarded as an alternative.

But maybe I'm just being churlish. Sometimes it's nice to escape from the gigantic QI brain of Stephen Fry and revel in the moment that some bloke who makes a living from being shut in a cage and walloped by another bloke, finds God. Even if he did look faintly uncomfortable having to hold hands with a Baldwin.

But as Steven B himself said, 'Brother, you are about to have the most fun in your life.'

I reckon I already am.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Oh dear, I'm Mr Rusty

Good Lord what happened there?

One minute the sun was out, the new peg bag was in full operation and there was everything to live for. The next thing I know it's three months later and I've fallen off the bloggercoaster. A right poor show and that's a fact so apologies all round.

Previously at Bird Towers, I was still recovering from my ordeal at Luton Airport where the lure of a cheap flight to Germany has resulted in me going on holiday with the cast of Shameless. Yikes. Actually, I'm blaming the whole escapade for my eversoquietness over the rest of the summer. I think it was the trauma of being stuck on an aeroplane with a stewardess called Chelsea who was the airline equivalent of Stacey out of X Factor. Her complete bewilderment at how to put on a life vest didn't bode well for a potential emergency. I found that quite offputting, especially as the plane was making very odd noises as if it wanted to go to the toilet.

Speaking of which, there was at least the memorable moment when Chelsea announced over the tannoy that as someone hadn't wanted ketchup there was a spare sachet going if anyone who'd ordered the hamburger was still well enough to want one. Strangely, nobody did, mainly because they all looked too ill to press the 'yes please' button.

I really wish I'd made that last bit up. Believe me I haven't.

The whole experience was summed up when I realised I'd left a book on the plane on the way home. As I'd 'safely' put a Christening card inside it which said I'd renounced the devil and would help my new god daughter be a lovely person I really wanted to find it. I phoned the airline's Lost Property Lady to see if they had it and, after she'd stopped laughing, the lady explained that my book would almost certainly have been thrown away.

"You see, " she said - not unkindly. "Books are rubbish."

Good to be clear there. Put that in your pipe Charles Dickens.

Since then - and of course after a couple of weeks in a dark room - I've been working (boo!), gone on a diet (double boo!) and was forced into some emergency weeding in the garden (total boo plus chiz!). Not much to show for the whole summer I admit. The diet at least, has gone OK, but with the embarrassing side effect of me randomly shouting "Good God, four pounds for a punnet of blueberries - have you all gone insane?" in the middle of Sainsburys. If my Premium Bonds come up before Christmas I'm going to spend the winnings on a bag of fruit from Waitrose.

So anyway, major apologies for the lull from here and it's jolly good to be back. With a full run of reality TV planned for the rest of the year I'm not going to leave the house until January.

And if I manage the next few weeks without mentioning 'Jedward' I'll be absolutely astonished.

Doh! I've blown it already!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

I've started so I'll finish

Ah now, this is a lovely thing what I was tagged in by the fabulous That Girl over at Forty Not Out. That Girl is jolly fine fellow who makes me laugh. Plus she's scared of moths which makes my phobia about frogs look actually quite reasonable and virtually brave. Hurrah!

Anyway, despite still suffering from post traumatic stress over the whole Airport Adventure (see post below), here is my attempt to continue the meme even though I don't know what a meme is but I think it is blogspeak for something cool that the big girls do so I'm going to do it too.

Who is the hottest movie star?
Ooh now. Does telly count? Obviously not. Hmm. Not even a bit? You know, slightly?

Well if that's the case I can only make a pre-emptive strike here. Because surely, if anyone in Hollywood has half a brain it is only a matter of time before Guy of Gisborne is given his own movie franchise?

Nurse - the screens!

Apparently in real life he is actually someone who's not called Guy of Gisborne at all which I think is a detail worth ignoring. And as for them killing him off in Series 3. Well. Consider my licence fee under review.

Apart from your house and your car what is the most expensive item you've ever bought?
A horse box. Which is now handily for sale. I know - look how I've turned a perfectly lovely questionnaire into a marketing opportunity....what a pro.

Said horse box is very wonderful but as I've now decided I have to try to finish the book, I don't actually take the old neddy out much so it's a silliness. I am aiming to sell it and buy 17,000 cakes to get me through the next 60,000 words. I will then become the first ever human hippopotamus to seek publication. Excellent work.

What's your most treasured memory?
My Grandad. The kindest man ever.

What is the best gift you ever received as a child?
My doll's house. Sadly later to become the best ever gift I ever received as a child that my mum gave away to the deaf cubs for their raffle. Imagine my surprise when someone tried to sell me a ticket to win my own house. I was in more than a fury I can tell you. I'm not even deaf.

What's the biggest mistake you've ever made?
I'm not sure telling Lee Hurst one of his own jokes was the cleverest thing ever. He laughed for about an hour and I had to go and stand outside because I thought I might be sick with embarrassment.

Four words to describe yourself.
Hearty. Comforting. Working stock. Oh good - I'm a soup.

What was your highlight or lowlight of 2008?
Being taken into the Prada shop in Venice by the BF and told I could have anything I wanted. He couldn't understand why I was virtually in tears of excitement bless him and then, being a practical fellow, very nearly gave me a heart attack by energetically testing all the zips on the handbags as if he was trying out rucksacks in Millets.

Endearing but half the staff had a seizure.

BF is now ex-BF (I know - no more bags - swizz!) but the bag remains mine - safely in its bag, inside a bag, inside another bag. Another thing that left the boy most bewildered and, being a manly type of chap, not unkindly trying to figure out why on earth you would buy a bag that comes in its own bag?

Favourite film?
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I want that car. And I want to marry someone with the surname Scrumptious.

Tell me one thing I don't know about you.
I own some toilet paper from The White House. (Unused).

If you were a comic book/strip or cartoon character who would you be?
I'd say The Snork Maiden of course but we all know she is real so doesn't count.

Phew - still with me? Hope so.

Thanks again to That Girl and now I'd like to send this on to the following for their delectation and answers because they are all top fellows who I think will have super answers we'll enjoy.

Spread the joy!

Friday, 31 July 2009

An Easy Way to Travel: Part 1

Low cost flying. Joyous isn't it?

Now call me a snoot bag but there's something about Luton airport at 4.30 on a Friday morning that makes me want to live in a palace and throw poo at the little people.

I'm alright now though it's taken me fully two weeks to recover and a certain amount of governmental 'talking down' from what felt like an international kidnapping attempt. My fault for not wanting to mortgage the house in order to park the car at Heathrow.

I have to say that my arrival at Luton (aka Borstal Airport) was notable for the fact it immediately gave a real old boost to the demographic profile of the place. I'm not blowing my own trumpet on this one - on struggling through the revolving doors there was a short blast on a kazoo and the local Mayor rushed over shouting 'Quick lads, we've got a posh one' and handed me a commemorative sash. It's not every day you walk through an airport with 'ABC1' written on your front but apparently I was the 25th person to visit since it opened who has worked anywhere other than MacDonalds so everyone was thrilled.

This lovely gesture was of course slightly spoilt when the Mayor realised someone had half inched his ceremonial chain of office but other than that it was rather nice. (It was later found in one of the toilets where someone had left it on account of it clearly wasn't fake so they weren't quite sure what do to with it).

Anyway, I checked in which went ok as everyone else had decided to go to sleep on the floor (nice) so I whipped on through and felt confident my luggage would soon be winging it's way to Hamburg. Naturally I was going to Dortmund but having travelled with this airline before, I didn't want to be too optimistic.

Sitting down for something out of a microwave (don't ask what - I'm not actually sure it was food) I noticed a cheerful hen party walk past. Lovely girls, all about seventeen and wearing vest tops they'd made a smashing effort to personalise. Each person had an encouraging phrase and their name printed on the back which was super. Who says our young people don't make an effort? I thought I'd seen the best one which had 'Ride me Ryan' written on it but I hadn't noticed her friend - the clear winner in terms of clarity of message - who was a personable girl apparently called 'Cum on me Connor'.

I swear to you I am not making this up.

At this stage I wasn't entirely sure I'd make it onto the plane without getting mugged but there we were. I finished my egg and cheese muffin which I'd insanely assumed would involve toasting at some stage (what was I thinking?) and pottered off to the departure area.

Did you know that the initials SB stand for Speedy Boarding? This means that for an extra six pounds, you get a 5 second head start on the rest of the passengers lined up for the hundred metres dash across the runway to the plane. NB: I don't think they actually stop other planes moving while you do it. Of course before you get to this point you have to stand for an hour next to the people in the queue called SA which probably sounds perfectly acceptable. What they don't tell you though is that SA stands for All The Loudest, Shoutiest Children In The World Ever. Who would have thought eh? I was particularly lucky as next to me was a little girl blessed with the ability to have hysterics in English AND German. How proud her parents clearly were as they did absolutely nothing to make the little darling stop screaming. Even though I did my grumpiest, scariest, cross face ever when her mum wasn't looking, I am not kidding when I tell you I was mocked by a three year old.

Quite a low moment actually.

Anyway, six pounds to be 'SB' is six pounds jolly well spent....if you're Linford Christie. If, like me, you're not that quick on your feet, you might as well save your money and use it for a bottle of Arnica at the other end. You'll need it for the bruising.

My goodness, people without numbered seating are fierce aren't they? No wonder we won the War. I swear to God I was overtaken by a woman dressed as Boudica trying to get to a window seat while carrying a suitcase containing a Sperm Whale. Hand luggage constraints? What hand luggage constraints?

Anyway, all was well that ended well. Another eight hours flew by as everyone swiftly got themselves on board and as I sobbed quietly at my terrible mistake, the aeroplane was ready to leave.

Things did not get any better and if the kindly nurses will let me play on the PC again I will tell of the journey itself. Until then my friends, if you are en route to the airport, my sympathies are with you.

I'm going to have my special medicine now.....

Saturday, 11 July 2009

I've been learning stuff and everything

Good morning all. Another lull from Bird HQ here but a better excuse this time as I have been on A Properly Grown Up Writing Course. Steady!

A quick warning though: Please don't expect grammar and spellings and all sorts of business just because of the above. I for one am sure people like Ted Hughes didn't care about details as they were far too busy wearing Interesting Jumpers and Being Deep. Anyway as my literary inspiration comes mostly from N.Molesworth of St Custards I think we're fine. So there. Chiz.

Anyway, the course. What did I learn? Here goes:

1. Be faster off the mark to bagsy doing the crumble on your night to cook.

A schoolboy error I'm afraid. Having eyed up the list earlier I wasn't my usual panther-like self when it came to actually helping. Arriving confidently at the sink a bit late, imagine le culinary horreur when offered the 'don't worry it's easy' alternative of Spinach and Ricotta in Filo Pastry instead.

Yes. Filo Pastry.

'Easy? Are you sure?' I said.

'Yes,' said the nice lady running the course. 'Don't worry, the pastry comes from a packet.'

'Ah right,' I said. 'Do you mean that packet there containing the sheets of gossamer I am supposed to magic into a pie dish? Has Hogwarts opened a food shop?'

It was a fair enough query I feel.

So that went well then. An hour later the dish was 'perfected'. By which I mean manhandled into position with a Pritstick. No one saw though and only a couple of people were actually physically poorly so I filed that one under 'Triumph' and ran away.

2. Try not to steal a lovely best selling novelist's laptop at the end of the course.

Yes I know. Poor form.

Having cheerfully suggested giving two of my fellow pupils a lift to their trains, we had a little bit of a hiccup as we divvied up the luggage only to be left with a rogue laptop bag sitting on its own in the station car park.

'This must be yours.'

'No, I didn't bring one.'

'Oh. Yours then?'

'Not really, no.'

We all backed away as realisation dawned that we were a nanosecond away from probable litigation with Random House.

'That's not a good start to your literary career,' pointed out my new friends as they carefully edged backwards towards the train. Any train. Didn't matter where to. 'Safe journey,' they called, breaking into a fast gallop, 'See you soon.'

Cripes. I tell you, NEVER have I so carefully carried a bag than during the walk to the hotel to take it back to its owner. I've carried children with less concern on more than one occasion. 'Oh I've dropped little Timmy..... No matter, his mother has other children.' This though? Gulp.

Now, street crime isn't exactly rife in the artsy hamlets of Yorkshire but you can't be too careful and as such I think it perfectly reasonable for me to get the first punch in on the little old lady who looked in my direction as I went to cross the road. I would, however, like to take this opportunity to formally apologise and wish her all the best for a speedy recovery. Sorry about that.

3. Be careful what you read out loud in an isolated cottage on a moor to people who don't really know you.

And it had been going so well.

'What do you enjoy writing about?' someone asked kindly.

'Oh - you know - jolly things about stuff that is chipper.' I replied.

'That sounds nice. Well today's exercise is about getting into a lift with someone you're not fond of.'

That sounded fun. Having a lovely time I hoppity skipped back to my room with its lovely view and only a little bit of damp and decided to just glance at my work emails before starting the writing.

Big mistake. Ten minutes later The Muse Had Turned Bad.

'No one can help you,' I read to the group the next morning. 'And you're going to die.'


I looked up from my paper, hopeful for some feedback, possibly critical encouragement. Funny really, no one made eye contact. One lady was a bit pale. Another one went to the toilet quite quickly - double locking the door which was odd.

'The email addresses we gave you,' said the tutors a bit later. 'You might find they don't work.'


'Spinach filo anyone?' I asked keenly at lunchtime. 'There's some left over from dinner.'

Do you know people can be really picky about leftovers. And after I'd glued it and everything.

Apologies and huge thanks to everyone at Arvon for such a fab week. I made up the bit about the Pritstick I promise. xx

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Papa's Got A Brand New Peg Bag

Cripes, I went all quiet.

There I was, quite enjoying this whole young people's blog world malarky and someone went and got in the way with the real one. Bumso eh?

Sorry I've been off the old radar. After the deep political insight of my last offering I know many people were left feeling palpable excitement at the brink of a New Dawn. Crack on Mr Brown, Ms H.Bird is in the House and bringing in proper policies - with crisps and everything.

And then I went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like 'oh blimey, I'd better do a spot of work that I get paid for.'

I hate it when that happens, don't you? Don't worry, I'm sure it was just a blip and won't happen again for a while. Phew.

Naturally, since we last spoke, life here at Bird Towers has been packed with Glamorous Events and Free Stuff on a daily basis. Well, to be strictly accurate it hasn't but I think that's called poetic licence. (Not entirely sure that's how you spell 'licence' but we'll push on).

Anyway, as I was saying, absolutely LOADS has been happening so here is a list to bring you up to date. For Ease Of Use I have listed them in order of importance. Hang onto your hats as it's been very busy so there are over two things on the list:

1. I've got a peg bag.

I know - how brilliant is that? Very brilliant, that's what. It's pink and in the shape of a dress like it's for a dolly. It's got strawberries printed on it and it's on a coat hanger and if that isn't enough excitement for you, it holds over 5 pegs as well.

2. I've got a whirly washing line B&Q called An Airer.

Well, after the adrenalin rush brought on by the aforementioned Bag, I thought I'd go bonkers and get the washing line too in order to show the neighbours my pants on a more regular basis. It turns out it's called A Rotary Airer and you can even buy it an anorak for when it's down and it's raining. To be fair I thought that was going over the top a bit because we all get a bit down when it's raining and not everyone always feels better just because they have an anorak so I thought it probably wasn't worth it.

3. I had some proper grown up photos taken.

In a studio with lights and a man who wore socks and no shoes and I don't know what else.

'Hi I'm Pete,' said the nice man with a camera.

'Hello. Should I just call you Bailey?' I said politely, having Read About Photographers.

'Er no, not really,' he offered. 'That's not my name.'

Surly wasn't he?

I took 2 suit jackets and some jumpers with me and weirdly almost all of them made me look fat which just goes to show cameras DO add four stone to you just as Kerry Katona has said in Reveal. As I am also a keen follower of Miss Katona's Iceland Diet which consists of multiple sausage rolls and frozen puddings made from mattresses I think this could also have been a factor.

No irrefutable evidence though on that point so I stocked up on cheese balls at the weekend as usual. They're virtually fruit.

So that's more than enough really. As you can tell I've been rushed off my feet.

I'm off now to pop in some washing. Next time I may tell you about The Day I Got The Linen Basket. Good eh?

What was that noise? Gosh - you mean ALL of you are going to be busy?

Monday, 1 June 2009

Brown Tries To Scare Off New Political Challenger by Smiling at It (see pic below)

Lawks - what a couple of weeks it has been!

Apologies for being off radar blogwise - I was slowed down by an outbreak of having to do some proper work (I know - ghastly) and - of course - having to devote all my other waking moments to watching a talent show on the telly.

Now of course the dust has settled, the work bit is under control and poor old Susan Boyle has been sent to The Priory. What a difference a fortnight makes.

Well, unless you're an MP of course in which case you're still fiddling about with your expenses rules and hoping you aren't the next one to be caught.

Gordon Brown I understand, has spoken to Simon Cowell (no, I've no idea why either), shown no interest in 200 people lost on a missing aeroplane until he found out some of them were British and still hasn't managed to stop our idiot MPs from spending all our money on birds nests. Or duck ponds. Or bees wax. Or something, I'm not exactly sure what but I do know it isn't helping the economy.

It does make you wonder doesn't it? Sorry young Gordon, but you will not be getting this week's I'm A VG Leader sticker. Calm down David C at the back - you'll get your turn soon enough. Oh - and be careful what you wish for sitting there looking so flipping pleased with yourself. This time next year Sunshine, you'll be wishing you'd taken drugs and gone off to Ibiza like the rest of your classmates.
I digress.

To be fair it's easy to mock when you haven't had a go yourself, so in a shock move earlier today I made An Insightful Comment on Twitter (a first) and announced that the pound has gone up against the dollar due to improvements in the global economy. Good eh? I was rather pleased with this as an entry into the political arena even though my point was that actually this is all very well but it was only at $1.30 when I was in America at Christmas and now I'm not any more I don't think that's fair.

Sadly no one replied or even raised an eyebrow at this example of gross economic mistreatment and global unfairness-ness.

Anyway, I was undeterred and frankly, rather inspired by the thought of a new Deep and Thoughtful Me so I tweeted again and suggested that based on my new found Economic Interest I run for Prime Minister.

Again, not much (approximately zero) reaction.

Honestly, what's wrong with people? I could be an exemplary MP. I've never fiddled my expenses, haven't the first clue about filling in a claim form and only once stole Tipex from an office and that was to give to my friends who worked in Social Services and couldn't afford any of their own.

Moreover (see - I've got all the lingo), I don't really know much about leadership, would sack Margaret Beckett for that terrible hair and have only the most rudimentary grasp of the international arena. (Ie: Most people seem nice, I like the new bloke in America, I wish people would stop killing each other and, er, that's pretty much it really).

Now I'd call that a jolly good platform. Yes?

Anyway, I'm all for it and may give it a go this week what with all the election things going on on Thursday. It's supposed to be a nice day so my plan is to go and stand outside the voting station, give people lollies and ask them if they'd like to live in a place where people are happy and the hospitals don't all smell of wee.

I think it's a winner. I'm going to make Simon Cowell Chancellor, Stephen Fry Speaker and Sir Joanna Lumley in charge of everything else. Meanwhile I'll wear the nice shoes I've just got off eBay, travel around the world making friends with everybody and send all the greedy bankers to work down the salt mines. Just because I can.

Come on - surely you're with me?

Haven't got a running slogan yet but will be working on it pronto. Early suggestion of "Henrietta Bird's Giving Out Free Crisps If You Vote For Her" has been vetoed on account of so far I've got £4.90 in the campaign kitty and you can only get three tubes of Pringles for that so I'm on a bit of a budget.

'Budget'? Look at me I've already gone fiscal!

Anyway, vote for me. Seriously. I'm a better bet than that Esther Rantzen and I won't go doing anything funny with a carrot either.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Big cheers all round that it's now the long weekend which is top news. I'm tired!

It's been a blimmin long week and not much time for anything bloggy which is why I've rudely not said a proper thank you to lovely Nora Johnson who cheered up a grim Monday this week by giving Bird HQ here a One Lovely Blogger Award. It's on the wall of course - up there on the right - look - see? That's mine that is - whoop!

The award is for recently discovered blogs and thanks to Nora the week here in the bunker got off to a crackerjack start. It also means a vg opportunity to list 10 blogs here that I've found recently which I think should be read by the whole planet (if they aren't already) and I think you will like not least because they are tons more fun and less moany than this one.


So, here's my list of Definitely Go And Read Them Now Blogs. Oh - and in honour of Judy from Richard and Judy falling out of her dress so spectacularly that time (and surviving getting, er, helped back into it by that creepy bloke who used to be on Blue Peter), I'm awarding myself an additional Judy Has A Bra Malfunction Award.

Yes, Captain Thicky here can't work out how to do links in posts so I've done a special list over there on the right so you can go to them pronto.

Ladies and genulmenn, please go clickity click to alphabetically listed great loveliness at:

A Quiet Sit Down
Auntie Gwen's Diary
Cupcake Bakeshop (but not if you're on a diet)
Dirty Sparkle!
Forty Not Out
Joanna Pearce Photography
Looking Fab In Your 40's
Spiral Skies
The H Factor
Uh Oh Spaghettios

They're all lovely though I fear you'll never come back again after a mooch through some proper quality blogging. Grrr.

Ah well, I'll always have our memories and of course, my Susan Boyle scrap book. Cooool!

Have a happy Bank Holiday everyone.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Waterloo? More like The 100 Years War...

So...did you watch it then? Come on, it's just a simple guilty pleasure, only without the 'pleasure' bit and admittedly, pretty much a clear sign of being tragic. But I'm not the only one out on the limb here so I'm making a stand as a big old saddo that watched the whole thing.

My excuse is that my Lovely Best Friend said 'Come round and watch the Eurovision' which was kindly and since none of my other friends said 'Come round and hang out with Guy of Gisborne from TV's Robin Hood, plus there'll be snacks', it seemed the best offer going.

Some hours later when we were taking it in turns to talk each other in from the ledge, I did of course, question this decision.

Granted, I got a lovely dinner out of the evening and a year of feeling smug that we have Duncan James From Blue to read some numbers out on the telly rather than a total mentalist like the rest of Europe. But I also drove home everso carefully as I didn't want watching four hours of cat poo to be my final night out should I get killed in a car crash.

Let's be honest, our entry was rubbish and it was only because poor old Jade (unfortunate name) was frogmarched (even more unfortunate phrase) around Europe on a four month PR tour that meant we got any more votes than we usually do.

'Jade's been working her socks off,' fabulous and loyal Graham Norton confirmed as Jade came on stage with legs weighing two ounces and her terror of Sir Andrew Lord Website obvious to everyone watching. That she managed to carry a note (mostly) as well as stare like a rabbit in headlights for three minutes was something of an achievement. I don't think Leona Lewis will be losing much sleep.

Meanwhile, Lord Andrew was fantastic and I loved him which is something I never thought I'd say, least of all on the internet and I realise requires an explanation.

Well, I loved him because of the way in which he played the piano to one hundred million viewers with the clear fury of a man screaming at every single one of them 'DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM NITWITS? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY NOT VOTE FOR ME?'


he wouldn't sit in the green room to be filmed with all the other losers which was highly commendable, opting I am sure, for a light dinner of panda cakes covered in diamonds in a room at the Kremlin instead. Good work Lord Webber. You did all that you could for us. (Apart from win, obviously).

Meanwhile, the rest of Europe had done their usual doolally best by fielding a line up of women dressed as hookers and mime artists in gimp masks. Always worth a go, although I quite liked Germany who turned up with Gok off of Fashion Fix singing Minnie The Moocher. I always thought you had to actually write a new song for the Eurovision but apparently not. They were well on for my vote until that Dita Von Trapp woman interrupted doing her usual talent packed routine of Having A Very Small Waist.

Well done dear - we can all have our vital organs removed. Now tell us what it is you actually do?

Of course Iceland tried to spoil everything by sporting a pretty girl who actually did her own singing and even more of a cheat, sang something resembling a proper song. The wiser countries of Europe realised the incredible insurgency of this and voted her into second place, but sadly no one was brave enough to do the right thing

So here we all were then, left with Harry Potter without his glasses pretending to play a fiddle that wasn't plugged in (not that any of the instruments were for the entire evening) and singing a song that was, by anyone not deaf's standards, dreadful.

Frankly me and the Lovely Best Friend were bewildered. Surely we'd missed something? What on earth made it favourite and even more concerning, what an earth made people actually vote? I could only put it down to something subliminal we'd been shouting at the telly too loudly to hear.

Thankfully a note of normality returned as LBF's boyfriend walked in, announcing he was 8 out of 10 drunk and for all that, speaking the only sense of the evening by saying we were bonkers to have watched it in the first place.

'We didn't come last,' I said in our defence. 'We got votes this year and everything, but the Danish spoilt it by singing the hokey cokey and making it all total rubbish'.

'It's Eurovision, you muppet' he replied, not unkindly. 'It's supposed to be rubbish.'

Good point.

After three everybody...."She's a fairytale yeh, even though it hurts....."