On being a Vamp (not)


I always rather fancied being a vamp. It’s too late for me now; my well-upholstered bust has turned into a shelf and my kidneys prefer to be well-covered at all times.

Over the years it would seem that vamps were having all the fun. Whilst I would be at home feeding a family of 10 – along with next door’s children – stretching half a pound of mince (200g approx. in case you were wondering). In the morning you would find me up early stoking the fire and making packed lunches whilst patching up grazes; always with one eye on the clock. Vamps, however, would barely have made it back home. Parties would find vamps seductively leaning with a drink in one hand and a cigarette holder in another; holding court to a group of husbands lapping up their so witty repartee. All this whilst I would be in the back-kitchen washing up and making sure there were enough supplies to go round. A vamp would arrive in a taxi and never have to book the return journey, I would be the sensible one with a soft drink and the car keys.

You see that’s the difference between vamps and other sisters: when vamps open their fridge you will find a couple of bottles of champagne and a punnet of wild strawberries, all with the promise of a good time. When I open my fridge it holds a carton of milk, chocolate biscuits and nothing more than the expectation of a good night in front of the telly.

Over the years I have seen men disappear after vamps, some never to be seen again; some like overindulged puppies. They just do it again and again and again. They just can’t help themselves, it’s in their DNA – Bless!

Well look out vamps because as time marches on, I and other sisters are coming into our own – you have had your day. As Norah Batty once remarked “all men come to the age when they are panting for the two F’s –  Feeding and First aid!” And of course that’s no problem for me and other sisters – we have been practicing all of our lives for this moment.



Common Modern Utterances


“Back in the day”.
God how I hate that expression. I want to scream: “whose day?  My day?  Your day? Their day?  Who-gives-a-toss-day?’ It’s like some secret smug club that no one knows about except the people in ‘the day’.

It’s similar to “been there – done that – got the t-shirt”. You are having a perfectly normal conversation and you know where it’s going; someone is going to say it. Once it is said there is nowhere to go because they already have the t-shirt. What can you say, been there, done that and got three t-shirts?! No… it’s a conversation stopper.

The other irritating modern habit is to start a sentence with “So…..”. I noticed it first on the Bake Off; Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would be chatting about the price of eggs, and the contestant -wanting to remind the viewers that actually its about their baking skills – will suddenly chime in with a: So……. We have a raspberry coulis with a chocolate sponge etc. etc. How annoying. Why can’t they just say “well moving on to me” or “shall I tell you about my baking”? Very subtly they manage to bring it back with a So……. Really meaning back to me, me, me, me, me.

As well as this, remember everything that comes after the but…. is what’s meant. So…. if someone says your hair looks nice but… it is very short – just ignore the first bit. What they are really saying is your hair is too short but… I thought I would dress it up by saying something positive first :).

Then there’s basically… I once had a conversation with someone and they used the word basically over and over again; I was so transfixed by this that I can’t even remember who it was or what it was about. If I met them again I would say to suggest an assortment, try picking –and-mixing: ideally, ironically, apparently or perhaps try even certainly. Give me something that makes for interesting listening.

When people go on about being Soooo passionate about x,y or z. Well get you, I think, some of us have to work for a living. We don’t have time to be passionate and when we are, we’re either looking at the clock or wondering what we are going to cook for dinner.

Last but not least: pre-owned or pre-loved. What’s that supposed to mean? Why not just say its old; its used; it’s a has been; its dead; I don’t want it anymore. It’s like calling a prostitute a sex worker or a cleaner a hygiene operative.

So overall, I reckon we should all get “back to basics”. “Back in the day” there was “none of this”. We didn’t “beat about the bush”, “think out of the box” or look for “blue-sky thinking”; life was a lot simpler because what we said we meant, we took the consequences of straight-talking and expected straight answers. No trying to be smart and no messing.



If God loves a trier my darts team is certainly stacking up some brownie points. Yes I play darts, and when I say play I use the term loosely; very loosely.

We are a mixed bunch, all shapes and sizes; young, old, some-working, some-resting and some who have done their time – but we gel and that’s what makes us a team.

We are permanently bottom of the league. Other teams print off the league tables every week: study it, discuss tactics, check positions; work out possible scenarios. We don’t. In fact it’s only recently that I found out that there is a league table sheet produced every week.

But…. we turn up. We are the Joe’s Garage of Dodgeball; the Wayne’s World of radio. We are triers and for that other teams love us.

Until you’ve experienced your team mates shouting ‘good one to win Sal’ when you are still trying to get started and your opponent is on his final double – you haven’t lived.

A couple of years ago we won a match! It may have been that the other team were short or that they were having a bad day (obviously we haven’t glossed over the exact details) but the cheering was so loud that customers dining in the adjacent restaurant came to see what it was all about. Never had we seen such a night, how we celebrated.

We tell each other defeat after defeat that other teams are in the pub every night practicing, yet it never seems to occur to us that if we practiced we might improve!

We encourage each other, we want to please our Captain. When we despair about yet another loss she will just say, “do you enjoy playing?” The answer is yes. Then she will smile as if to say “well that’s what it’s all about” – and she’s right. She’s right because in life we can’t all be winners, but we can all have fun trying.

Middle Age

middle age

It seems to me that there are two types of elderly: those that play Bridge (and those that never quite got round to learning to play Bridge) or those that play Bingo. You, like me will probably know of both!

I am 55 and feeling distinctly middle-aged; trying hard not to think too much about the weeks, months and years flying by. You may think that I am too young to be worrying so much about the future, but maybe this is because I work with the elderly daily and I see at first-hand how life can deteriorate very quickly.

Please God, let me flower into the kind of elderly person who would like to play Bridge but have never really had enough time to learn. I aspire to be the kind of person who continues to be interested in what’s going on in the world; the kind of person that young people want to hang around with; not fearing that I am going to suck their life-force out of them.

I don’t expect as I come into full flower to be in the same looks-league as say Helen Mirren; Twiggy; Carol Vordeman; or even Joan Collins. However, I don’t want to be labelled as mutton dressed as lamb or as trying too hard. I just want to be respected for who I am and defy ageism by being more interesting – always open and welcome to new ideas – hoping that it shines through in my face, speech and demeanour.

Yesterday, I was in a particular cheap ‘all-one-price’ shop after a heavy day at work and at the till the assistant said (to pass his time I would imagine): “have you kept busy today dear?” The ‘dear’ was wounding enough but to insinuate that I was old, had no purpose in life other than to wander round bargain shops incensed me. I wanted to grab him round the neck, thrust my ‘lady’ purchases at him and say “do you not realise that I’m still ovulating?!“ But I didn’t. I sloped off to sulk at home with Countdown and a chocolate Hobnob, feeling pretty sorry for myself. I despaired for my younger self who didn’t appreciate that she could still turn a head and wondered at what exact point in my life that stopped happening. If I had known it was going to stop – God how I would have milked that last time.

Hang on a minute though. They say that 60 is the new 40 – at 55 that makes me 35 – my thirties were excellent years. Age is a state of mind, I can do this! Plus at 35 I still have bags of time to learn to play Bridge.