Not Saying I’m a Perfectionist, But…

They say a picture paints a thousand words, I say it paints 999.999…

(Yes, the British cost of unleaded petrol (gas) is indeed hideous.)

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“Mum’s Laptop Woe” (a Very British Local News Story)

To use its full title, “Mum’s laptop woe as Amazon box contains cornflakes” is quite honestly a thing of local news beauty.

Published on 24th December, the BBC article (linked above) doesn’t contain the news bulletin VT. Someone would have to record it manually within 24 hours, before the transmission was replaced with the following day’s news. But who would be sad enough to do that? Oh, wait, that would be me.

(And before stones are thrown, the recording boiled down to me filming my laptop through my phone. If anything I think it adds to the effect.)

Give this a watch and let’s compare notes afterwards.

Here are some of my personal highlights:

  • The dramatic reconstruction of ‘opening the parcel’
  • Lizzie’s revelation: opening a parcel in December, two months after receiving it
  • “This isn’t an isolated case” in Lichfield
  • Lizzie’s fears for other disappointed children
  • (And, best of all) Lizzie demanding people are made to open their parcels in front of delivery drivers

I probably shouldn’t laugh, but I will. And saying this could have been avoided if someone had forced her to open the parcel on the doorstep?

It also begs a lot of other questions…

1) How much money did Lizzie pay for this laptop? (As she and her daughter scroll through a shopping site at the end of the VT, you can see every laptop is priced at £500+. If Lizzie paid that much shouldn’t the gripe be that she was conned? If she didn’t pay that much, how can you be surprised this happened?)

2) Surely you’d know the parcel wasn’t the right weight for a laptop? Unless those boxes of cornflakes are stuffed with rocks

2.5) Why gluten free cornflakes?

3) Did Lizzie convince her friend in Lichfield to also buy the same product from the same seller?

3.5) When did Lizzie’s friend find out she’d been conned?

4) What sane person wraps up their parcels before checking their contents? Yes, the product might not be as advertised, but it could have also been damaged in transit. Very important details you’d need to know before gifting on.

5) What craziness is this demand of opening parcels on doorsteps? Lizzie, be reasonable here.

And finally 6) what ten year old kid gets a laptop for SATs revision? (And if this is commonplace nowadays it only serves as further proof that I was born in the wrong century.)

Conclusion

In all the craziness of the world right now there is one thing we can all take away and that one thing is this this news article. Local news, don’t ever change.

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Alice Takes on the Pudding Van

Someone abandoned their catering van on my housing estate. And I was not happy.

Look at it! It’s massive!

Naturally, I applied a very level-headed attitude to this. That’s right, I sent a ranty email to estate management. It went something like this:

WHY IS THERE A MASSIVE CATERING VAN PARKED IN A VISITOR SPACE? I’VE CHECKED THE REGISTRATION PLATE (“XXX XXX” for your reference) AND IT’S NOT TAXED OR INSURED. IT’S UGLY AND CLEARLY BEEN ABANDONNED. I PAY MY MANAGEMENT FEES, SORT IT OUT!

(The caps are a reflection of the shouty voice in my head…I may have also left the last bit out.)

Estate management responded, saying thay they’d located the vehicle’s owner and told them to move it within the next 48 hours.

48 hours came and went, the van unmoved.

I wish I could say I became tolerant of the pudding van’s presence, but when you’re facing onto something like that every time you go to make a cup of tea, it’s very hard to let go. (Plus, you know, me.)

Whilst waiting for the owners to be chased up again, I did a little investigation of myself. By in investigation, I meant be super nosey.

There weren’t any company details on the van and the only online presence seemed to take me back to a deactivated Facebook page, from when it operated out of Pershore some 56 miles away.

Instead of hard, concrete information, I had to deal with statements like this:

It reads: “Feeling stressed? Stressed backwards is desserts”

I don’t know what bothered me most; the font, the words or the fact that it’s annoyingly true. Everything about it grated on me more than the sugary sweetness of the food it claimed to provide.

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Update: I drafted this post in September 2021, however in June 2022 the van disappeared altogether. I assumed it was at local festival but it never came back and I haven’t seen the van since. No idea what has happened but the problem of the Pudding Van seems to have sorted itself!

I’m totally putting it down to my ability to moan, that or my top-notch judgemental stares out the window.

(And as for why I’m not posting this until now…well, I forgot I’d written it.)

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Alice’s Historic Image of the Week

I don’t know if I’ve shared this before but even if I have I’m sharing it again.

This was in York Castle Museum, as part of an exhbit on exercise through the ages. Originally produced to highlight the importance of cycle safety, the whole overdramatization of scenario is hilariousand (even though I am the first to accept it does feminism no favours).

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The Elizabeth Line: An Alternative Review

Here’s a quick run-through of what happened when I went on London Underground’s newest service, the Elizabeth line.

The first thing I was aware of when I descended the escalators at Paddington was the whizzy LED signs.

I don’t know why, but I found them mesmerising, like a lava lamp. It was also 7:30am and I hadn’t had coffee, which I acknowledge may have been a contributing factor. Nudged by another commuter in that classic “get-on-or-move-on” fashion, I hopped onto the next Eastbound train.

Now the thing is…well, I wanted to illustrate that even though it was very busy at Paddington station the train was pretty quiet. But, equally, I didn’t want it to be obvious I was taking random photos of the train. You can see my predicament. So what do you get?

A slightly burred picture of a door.

It really was a classically Alice dilemma.

Oh, thumbs up for the seat coverings by the way.

And the floor? I mean, I wouldn’t say I’d be eating off it, but by London standards it was fairly squeaky.

I just wish I could say it was seam-LESS! (Get it? Because there’s a joining line? Well, I thought it was witty).

And here’s a photo of Custom House, before a-la-mosh pit I got scooped up by corporate commuters and funnelled toward the ticket gates.

*Then Alice did actual work stuff at the ExCel conference centre*

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On leaving the ExCel I was running back what felt like the thickest black jacket in the hottest day. To say I was a bit toasty was an understatement, I was effectively drowning in a pool of sweat and free pencils.

Honestly I was so relieved to be somewhere with air conditioning and seating I forgot to take any photos. Minor detail.

It was probably owing to this (realising at Bond Street I hadn’t taken any photos and unable to, thanks to the copious amounts of free pencils filling my hands) that I became very obsessed with scoring a selfie with the Underground sign at Paddington. That, and in part because of the very strong coffee I knocked back before leaving the ExCel.

Ten attempts later (not kidding), I settled with what I got and shambled upstairs to find out the outbound train I’d been racing to get was actually a very slow train so ended up loitering around Paddington for 40 minutes for the train which, it turns out, all my colleagues were on as well. None of them were interested in my pencils, only moaning about the cleanliness of the toilets at Paddington. For a whole hour.

So yeah…

The Elizabeth line! Clean (enough), mesmerising signs (if you’re suffering from caffeine withdrawal) and just enough air con to stop you gagging on the stench of someone else’s body odour. What more could you want?!

Oh, and it’s actually super quick to get places. Minor detail.

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An Earful of ELO and Bitter Tea: Why I Write

What do you picture when you think of the writer? A recluse, working in the half-light of winter or in the sun-kissed parklands of summer? Novel thoughts that flow through dainty calligraphy on tanned pages? Web string ideas that will one day sit proud and hardbacked in Waterstones or Foyles. Half an hour to transpose to pixel, twelve weeks to complete, another month or two for luck.

Ha.

If that’s the vision, let me grace you with the reality, as I find myself propped in a generic coffee shop. The table is scratched as a post, the air sticky and the green chair worn away to the bare threads. There is only one word for it, uninviting. But what does it matter? My leggings are peppered with rips and holes anyway, the stains and the marks, it’ll wash out.

A train goes past, one of those piddly little things that carry children at walking pace, no, slower than that, a snail’s. The driver sounds its electric toot-toot as it crawls by, my right ear left ringing while my left is pumped with coffee grinding and the tinny music of overhead Electric Light Orchestra. The best ambiance £2.25 of tea can buy. I sip the cold fluid with a grimace, bitter and stewed.

It’s gone 18:00, my hair is wet with grease and my young face slightly more etched from another exhaustive day at the office-come-dining table. Eyes swollen, fingers twisted. I worked through lunch, which every psychologist from here to Timbuktu will say is a one-way trip to an early grave, but the extra hour of toil then means an extra hour of freedom now. A fragment of bliss with a half-eye on time. Later, a stranger beckons at my door to collect dusty offcuts from my garage; he won’t negotiate on the timings and I really could do with that £20.

Writers are leather beaters, we take the skin of an idea and scrape, beat and dunk until that piece of flesh returns gold. Sometimes our elbows linger for too long in foul-smelling liquids that the only thing golden is our stained skin, saturated with stench.

Write. Write harder and faster and quicker and smarter and eloquently, until your fingertip pads run smooth and your skin cracks with effort. That’s what writing is. I’d consider myself a very successful woman indeed if I were ever to stumble across my work in a library or charity shop. Maybe that makes me simplistic, or maybe that makes me even more of a dreamer. I scrub my manuscript some more.

I started putting keyboard to laptop in 2014 on little more than a whim and utter boredom, to fill lonely nights in a strange town I barely knew. Eight years later I find myself plagued with a parasitic urge I can barely comprehend. What time is it? When did I last eat? How long before the staff spot my empty cup and kick me to the curb?

I don’t write because I want to, I write because it is an addiction. Leave hollow hope be for there is nothing to be saved.

My colourless eyes glance sideward as the same empty train edges closer once more.

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This piece was kindly sponsored by Ben Miller, who spotted my business card on a noticeboard and commissioned me to write a post on “Why I Write”.

Please sponsor me to keep doing what I love by donating here: Alice’s Funding Page

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Volunteering to Beat Cancer

I signed myself to volunteer recently at a Cancer Research UK Race for Life event at Cheltenham racecourse.

Stick me in a high visibility jacket with a radio and I’m your girl (be it with a slightly inflated sense of importance).

It was very windy (hence the squint) and, being Britain, I did get caught out in the rain for a short spell. Observation of the day, racecourses aren’t great for weather protection.

Here are some choice phrases from my time as the very important marshal number six on the 3km, 5km and 10km run:

  • “I want your tutu!”
  • “3km that way, 5km that way. Also, check me out with my semaphore arms!”
  • “You’re doing this so I don’t have to!”
  • “No such thing as going too slow. Look at me, I’m standing still!”
  • “It’s very windy here!”
  • (In response to someone asking for a mid-course vodka tent) “don’t have shots, but lots of shouts – YOU’RE AWESOME!” (It made them laugh.)

A big shout out to everyone across the country who make Race for Life (and similar) events happen and to all those taking part and raising money to support such a worthwhile cause. I’d wholeheartedly recommend volunteering for anyone looking for a fun day out (with a laugh or two along the way).

Links:

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK – Get Involved (Volunteering Opportunities)

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Writing Retreat in the New Forest *VIDEO*

Video of my recent five-day break in the New Forest, England. I went out specifically to focus on writing and while it didn’t quite turn out entirely as I’d hoped, I had a very relaxed time in beautiful surroundings.

Until the next time!

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“Cleaning-Up the Microwave” (a Chemical Fume-Induced Song)

From the makers of That’s When the Cleaning Fumes Got to Me, I present me, cleaning the microwave with equally questionable methods.

If it’s not the fact I forgot to turn the mircowave off (apparently it’s not safe), it’s the realisation afterwards of the potential effects those fumes were having on me.

But still, at least the microwave is clean now.

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Reactions to “Chicken Con Carne”

Less than an hour after I upload my last post, Alice’s “Chicken Con Carne”, my phone buzzes. Two separate messages, one from Mumma B and the other from brutally honest mate Laura. Wishing we well? Asking what I’m up to? Nope, expressing concern over my grasp of international dialogue and my hands. As you do.

That’s right, I did indeed study Food Technology and the Spanish language at GCSE, with respective grades of A and B (I even won an award for my cooking). Where did it all go wrong? One word, University-catered-halls-of-residence-slash-studying-hard-slash-it-was-around-this-time-I-discovered-GoT-and-daytime-TV.

It gets worse. I visited Mumma B the other day and she’s given me a knife, that is how concerned she is. It must make her the first parent in history to thrust a knife into her daughter’s hand and beg me to take it. She even smuggled it into my handbag when I tried to leave it behind.

(The best bit? The video was recorded months ago. The face on Mumma B when I told her? Priceless.)

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