Mother Shipton’s Cave provided, at the end of the meander through the woods and at the opposite end of a path to the terrible cave with the naturally occuring concrete floor, a gift shop and museum.

The museum, as I may have mentioned, was beyond rubbish. It contained a variety of coin operated fortune tellers – including a Zoltar machine, as though no-one has seen the cautionary tale of Big – and a lot of petrified socks.

The gift shop contained all the usual tat you would expect. Pencils bearing the words “Mother Shipton’s Cave”, bookmarks, nick-nacks, raunchy fairy statues, more nick-nacks, crappy little toys in boxes for the kids, forty quid petrified teddies and, of course, fridge magnets.

We bought a fridge magnet because why the hell not. Well, I’ll tell you why not. Because they’re £2.50 which is a price that no self respecting fridge magnet should be. But yet we still bought one. Hell, we’d spent the better part of twenty quid getting in, why not round it up with some tat.

The problem with the fridge magnet is it won’t stay put.

No, wait, that’s not strictly true. The sticky magnet is fine. That stays on the fridge, pretty much living up to the job description. The problem comes with the Mother Shipton element, which is basically a small section of a wall tile with Mother Shipton’s twisted face drawn upon it in blue enamel or something. In a nutshell, the sticky magnet and the wall tile do not adhere. Which, in all honesty, is not that surprising. Otherwise people would just tile walls with sticky pads and all the messy tile adhesive nonsense would be out of the window.

So what happens is, we periodically hear a plink as Mother Shipton falls to the ground. The first time it happened, I didn’t know we’d even put the magnet up, so had no idea what it was. But now I’m quite used to it. I like to think that she falls off as some sort of portent to something which may be about to occur. Which, when you consider my mum is still in hospital, is probably not the best thing to do. You hear a plink, you’re waiting for the phone to ring.

I think I might get in touch with the Cave people. I might ask them if they can hang the magnet under the petrifying well for a while and hope that the limestone seepage in some way seals the magnet to the tile. And hell, if it works then much like their cheap bear turned to rock extortion, they could probably multiply the price of the fridge magnets like twenty times.

If this is a good idea, I’m sure there will shortly be a sign from the kitchen…

Wait for it…


Trigger’s Broom

I watched a bit of the snooker today.

I used to religiously watch snooker when I was younger. In that I’d watch it all the time, not that I would sing hymns while it was one. But that was back in the days when we only had four channels and the snooker dominated one of them (at least) while it was on. I haven’t really watched it in ages.

But this time around, I’ve dipped in and out of it over the past couple of weeks because it makes for nice background when you’re doing things like shredding nine year old lottery tickets or waiting for your socks to dry after soaking them during the great pressure washing adventure of Wednesday.

I put it on today while I changed the bed. It’s the greatest accompaniment to chores, ever. Because it requires very little concentration but distracts you from the misery of wrestling with a duvet cover.

But all they were talking about was John Higgins and the trials and tribulations of his new tip.

Like every other sentence was something to do with his tip.

“Oh, that was too hard. He’s clearly not got to grips with his new tip…”
“Oh, that was an excellent shot. His new tip is clearly working for him…”
“North Korea has fired a ballistic missile, it could be in relation to the new tip…”

Now, I get it. I understand that changing the tip of his queue mid match (he had a five and a half hour round trip to Southport to have his tip sorted in the middle of the night) can make all the difference, but there are 8 frames of snooker in a session. I knew more about his new tip by the end of the first frame than I could have ever possibly wanted to know. I knew who fitted it. What time he was on the practice tables. How many miles per gallon he got on the car journey. What the prevailing wind was like. Who manufactured the tip in the first place. What arrangements had been made with regards to the old tip. Whether there would be a party for the new tip.


And then, for seven more frames, they repeated the same stuff about his bloody tip.

Not his bloody as in covered in blood tip, just his bloody tip. The tip that was so new it could rip a hole in the space-time continuum.

They stopped short of saying that John Higgins had been using the same cue for the last twenty years and that it had only had 17 new tips and 11 new shafts.

But only just.


Super Grass

The other week, because we are such rock and roll people, we were watching Gardener’s World and a fascinating feature about lawn care.

We have one lawn, it’s in the front garden and is primarily used by the feral children as something to kick their footballs onto. Our street surrounds a sizeable grassy area, but the kids are not allowed to play on that because of cat shit, or something.

Anyway, our lawn is made up of 87% dandelions, 8% grass and 5% bare soil. It’s not the best lawn. Although I have looked at other lawns on the street and it’s not the worst either.

Our aim is to return it to green grassy glory.

So I started that process today, by removing some of the dandelions. I couldn’t take them all because even the ones I did left the lawn looking like some moles had got pissed and set about trashing the place. If I’d taken them all out I wouldn’t have had any lawn left to stand on.

The feature on Gardener’s World showed the guy neatly cutting around it with a knife. Life’s too short for that sort of crap, I was in there with a trowel digging for all it’s worth.

And I gave the lawn a good rake. Which revealed how much of it was bare earth, worryingly. It was like turning a fan on someone with a comb over. AreasI previously thought to be luxuriously grassed were quite the opposite.

Still a bit more excavation and rakery and we can fertilise and reseed it all and make it sexy again. And the bestbit about the seed-fertilise step is that you’re advised not to walk on it during this bit as stuff may adhere to your shoes and possibly stain or discolour carpets etc.

Oh I really hope the feral children manage to stay off it…

Lashing Out

Yesterday, as I journeyed through the sprawling metropolis of Halifax I noticed a shop. It used to sell shoes, but now it’s some sort of beauty parlour that offers a variety of this to enhance the female form.

Including semi-permanent eyelashes.

Don’t you already have semi-permanent eyelashes.

Aren’t they, by their very nature, semi-permanent anyway?

But instead, for some reason, you can choose to pay £25 – I’m not sure if that’s one or two eyes – to have some other eyelashes put in which won’t stay there, much like your own ones. I assume you can’t pull them out like you can with your real ones, or that they don’t work their way loose and slide into your eyes when you least expect it causing untold discomfort and misery.

It’s bizarre.

It baffles me no end.

I also can’t get my head around the wording.

What’s the difference between temporary and semi-permanent? I imagine some of it is the cost. But other than that, surely they’re essentially the same. Aren’t they? Anything temporary is only semi-permanent.

Maybe it’s just a girl thing. One of the many, many things that menfolk will never understand, no matter how many times it is explained to us.



Cluttered Memories

So today I’ve been at mum’s doing odds and sods of jobs and things that we put off after my dad died.

I got to pressure wash things, in and amongst the snow falls, so at least the decking isn’t slippy anymore. And I refilled the water feature, watered all the plants, filled the bird feeders, harvested rhubarb and dead headed plants. At least one of those things was way outside of my comfort zone. But I managed.

And then I retreated inside to the unsnowy world of my old bedroom which was repurposed as an office (either side of being somewhere my gran could wet the bed on a regular basis). The office was, very much, father’s domain and is a memorial to his hoarding.

Basically, I spent a good portion of the afternoon disposing of printed copies of lottery tickets my dad put on online sometime in 2008.

They had all been printed and checked off – something which would be done automatically online – and then kept in a folder. For no reason whatsoever.

What I learnt from these lottery tickets was two-fold: my dad loved to put the buggers on AND my dad was massively unlucky. Not a winner amongst them.

I also, while mum is otherwise indisposed, took the time to sort out the drawers next to her chair in the front room. She likes to keep things, it would appear, with the same gusto as my dad.

Sadly, though, thanks to her son she will now no longer be able to open that drawer and pull out a letter allowing her to reminisce of the time, in 2008 (clearly a good year for hoarding), the HSBC changed the terms and conditions of her current account.

I’ve left the copy of the letter she sent to get a new shelf (costing £15.04 in 1997) for a cooker which, I think, is two before the one she has now.

I’m not totally heartless.