“The Swindon Plaque” says a lot about this English town

This isn’t particularly breaking news, but for those of you who may have missed it (or needed reminding about the wonders of Swindon, the town I live in), may I direct you to our council’s recent attempt to celebrate the district’s invaluable key workers.

Ladies and gentlemen, this plaque:

Have you spotted the mistake? Trick question, the whole thing is a hot mess.

Apparently the Covid 19 pandemic apparently started in 2019…I’m sorry, what?

I’ve heard all manner of conspiracy theories about Covid 19, but the one about it starting a whole year before the start of the UK lockdown? Now that’s something.

The town I live in, the town I pay my council tax to…seesh.

And on that note, I’m off to get myself a very strong cup of coffee.

(Full article can be found here (BBC News). Alternatively search for it online, there’s a lot of high-quality journalism out there.)

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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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Desperate Times Call for Christmas Measures

You know the feeling, you’re going about with the final touches on a birthday present. You’ve already got the gift (because you’re super organised like that) now all that remains is the wrapping up.

You go to your trusty roll of wrapping paper and, oh…

That amount of paper, well, that was not going to cover the item. Far too…rectangley.

But it’s okay. It’s not as if you’ve spent so much time on the present acquisition part that it’s now 18:30 and in 30 minutes you’re meant to be handing said gift over to friend. No one would be that much of a muppet…

*Cough*

This was around the time my improvise mode kicked in. Five minutes / mad rummage around later, ta-da! Present wrapping sorted!

(We will just ignore the fact that it came out as upside down on the ‘prettier’ facing side.)

I even made and effort and dressed-up the second gift.

*Whispers* It’s Pepsi Max.

There you go, birthday wrapping a-la Alice. Think of it this way, if you waited until the 25th December this would be perfectly normal.

That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it.

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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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“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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Ko-Fi

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An Investment Opportunity

And let me tell you, this house does not disappoint.

A perfectly unassuming two-bed Vicorian terrace property on the market for £60,000. As of Feb 2022, other properies on the same street are up for c. £170,000, so this really is a postcode-bargain.

And, if you were just to look at the single photo on the main listing that’s were it would end. Click on the link titled “Video tour” though and things get interesting…

Sure, the front living room is a little messy, more a hommage to the 1970s, but nothing I haven’t seen before (I would know, I own a sunburst clock).

Then you move to the dining room.

If anything so far has been disturbing you better stop reading.

This, this is the kitchen.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Then there’s the ajoining bathroom.

Upstairs you’ve got a table because why not?

And as far as the master bedroom goes it’s just more of the same.

Stairway is in a decent state, just need redecorating.

There you go. A two-bedroomed terraced property in Swindon, yours for as little as £60,000 (subject to auction room bidding). Do I have any takers?

Full credit to Mumma B for discovering this listing and sharing it with me. Link to the full property details: https://www.rightmove.co.uk/properties/119204489#/?channel=RES_BUY

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Best Fashion Purchase of 2022* (*So Far)

Check out this beautiful, hand-made, Japanese silk face covering I just purchased from KatyBeesDesignStudio, on Etsy.

Who needs makeup and filters when you can look this damn fine? (And/or have something covering half your face anyway.) PS – hair was doing its own thing that day, it could not be tamed for love nor a litre of hair-care products.

It’s so incredibly comfy to wear and comes fitted with a top metal strip and slot-in space for a removeable air filter, should you wish to have one. Even before I’d had chance to put it on, I felt like an utter princess from the packaging presentation.

As well as the face covering (delivered in a rainbow pager bag), she sent me an air filter in a drawstring bag and some cute trinkets in a little drawstring pouch. You know how I get over little trinket items. It really was the icing on the cake

Katy hasn’t sponsored me to write this post but it’s been a long two years and it’s been a while since I got excited over something as mundane as a face covering. I simply had to rave about it.

Link: KatyBeesDesignStudio on Etsy

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Ko-Fi

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Alice’s Book (Cover) of the Week

Spotted, on one of the rabbit-hole forums I’m part of.

“The Family That Got Abuse Instead of Justic After Reporting Incest”

Okay, okay, let’s hear it out. This book might be something completely different to what the cover suggests. Maybe.

No, you’re right, reading this would be a terrible idea. I’ll stick to watching clips from Mary Poppins.

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New Year, New Job

So, here’s news; I have a new job, in a new company (but still within the financial services sector – in case any of you were worried of me jumping the sector-ship).

Just a little bit smug/proud of myself. A little.

Nothing encapsulates this glorious news better (/brings me back down a peg) than this card sent to me by a dear friend. The message inside is wonderful, it’s all incredibly heartful, only, he didn’t realise it was one of those personalised cards you’re meant to edit beforehand.

(My family are now refusing to call me anything other than Stacey Peterson.)

Brilliant.

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Ko-Fi

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