The livin’ is easy

Sunshine through cloud

I’ve always been nesh. I feel the cold. Not great for someone who lives in THE DRAUGHTIEST HOUSE IN THE WORLD. At work, I was the one with a shawl. As a teenager, I had permanent third degree burns down my spine from leaning against my bedroom radiator.
So I am loving this heat. It is 23 degrees in the kitchen this morning – it never gets that warm there, even when we have the radiators on for a solid week.
Anyone who moans that it is too ‘sticky’ obviously has a metabolism problem and should move to Greenland.
It’s not hard. Here are the reasons why it’s cool to be hot:

The sun in a blue sky

Here comes the sun, do do doo doo…

  • No pernickity tucking in of curtains around the radiator, or stopping the blind at exactly the right spot to maximise the paltry amount of heat limping into the room.
  • In fact, no need to close the curtains AT ALL – let the moonlight flood in.
  • No need for long muddy dog walks, as the dog is both big and black and can’t walk for panting in the heat.
  • No need to cook. A lettuce leaf, a tomato, a slice of cucumber, a bag of crisps, a pickled egg and pork pie and you have a salad. (Look, no-one ever said it had to be a healthy salad).
  • No need for expensive scented candles to cover up the smell of dog, cooking and desperation create an ambience. Just open the windows already.
  • No need to wear (and therefore wash, dry, iron, sort out) socks, vests, leggings, jumpers and cardigans, my wardrobe staples for most of the year.
  • Ice -cream becomes a medical necessity.
  • As does cold beer and a raspberry vodka Collins.

We live in interesting times indeed

I gave up writing a diary years ago – a quiet, contemplative hour at the end of the day does not dovetail neatly with having children. Which is ironic, as a quiet, contemplative hour at the end of the day is EXACTLY what you need when you have children.
However, I know when I have flicked back on the ones I did keep, from the age of 13, that they are most fascinating when personal events are described alongside global ones.
The past few weeks have been pretty historic, so much so that I feel horribly cheated today when all I can find on my rolling news channel of choice is a report about Russian athletes taking drugs with the full co-operation – even encouragement – of their government. Yawn. Compared to what we have been watching for the past month, this is dullsville.
Current affairs are interesting, but rarely actually impact on real lives anymore than being something to talk about in the car on the way to Morrisons.
No matter how important politicians think they are, you never get anyone running into the pub of an evening shouting “Have you heard? The Lords are moving an amendment to the draft Criminal Justice Act!”.

Charles and Diana on their wedding day

Hard to believe, but the whole country was obsessed with this in 1981

But, occasionally, you get an event that gets everyone talking – or leaves them speechless.
My hardback blue jotter from 1981 records how we all went round to my Grandma’s to watch the royal wedding (of Prince Charles and Lady Diana) and how good it was because my Grandma’s chocolate cake was much nicer than my mums, and you got bigger slices.
A year later I detail my hatred for my ‘old bag’ of an English teacher while recording that we had just invaded the Falklands. ‘Go for it boys – I hope we win’. Bless.
Less occasionally, one event is followed by another big event (Lee Harvey Oswald being shot after JFK was killed is the pinnacle here). For me, this would be Diana being killed, and her sad, sad funeral a week later.
Then you get 2016.

John Major PM

Who is this man?

Momentous events take on a different colour when you are a journalist, even a local news journalist more concerned with planning application disputes than global atrocities.
When something big happens you immediately start thinking of the local angle, and if there isn’t one, how you can manufacture one. That is why you see so many vox pops – Gods, how I dreaded being sent onto the high street to ask unwilling shopper what they thought of John Major becoming Prime Minister, or Charles and Camilla getting married. The usual answer was ‘not bloody much, now piss off and let me get on my bus’.
If you work on national news it is much worse. You have to get that story, you have to get all over and behind that bloody story, you have to get it out and you have to do it better and quicker than everyone else. With five people yelling at you to do it while not appearing to do a great deal to help you.
The thrill of a big story is always tinged with fear, and, eventually, as you get older and have seen it all before, the internal groan as you realise this means you will probably have to work through your weekend again, or stay up half the night with a phone pressed against your ear and firing off emails, when you’d much rather settle down with Netflix or go to the garden centre.

Princess Diana's funeral flowers from Prince Harry


There isn’t much that is new on the news front – when William and Kate got married one of my baby-faced editors sent out a plan of action email to cover the momentous day, ending with the message that this was history in the making and a ‘unique’ (ouch) opportunity to get involved in a complete one-off occasion we could tell our children about.
For the handful of us who remembered Charles and Diana (see above) and had been at the coalface throughout Diana’s death and funeral, as well as the various jubilees in between, you can imagine our eye-rolling. (There’s a bit of royal theme going here. I’ll ponder that some other time.)

Twin towers under attack

Not much could top this for cataclysmic news

But sometimes, you haven’t seen it all before. Sometimes, shit happens. Usually, it is just one-off shit, and after dealing with that, you deal with the aftermath – Diana’s death comes tops here. Sometimes it is shit followed by a bit more shit – 9/11 in New York and July 7 in London. Very rarely does the shit just keep on coming.
OK, the recent political meltdown has hardly been on the scale of such cataclysmic tragedies, but maybe that is why it is so fascinating.

Politics is pretty dull, involving a lot of in-fighting with a few people who think they are at the centre of the world, while the rest of the world has no idea who they are and what they do. The odd thing happens, usually in the form of a resignation and a sacking, and that’s it.
2016 started off with a spate of big-deal celebrity deaths that had us all re-evaluating our lives. It went a bit quiet for a month or two. Then we had a referendum.
This was pretty dire. The campaign was bad-tempered and boring, with no-one believing either side (quite rightly, as it turned out) and most people apparently deciding how to vote on whether they could remember the war or not.
But since then it has been wall-to-wall drama. Who is in, who is out, who is shaking it all about – every day brings a new twist in this real-life House of Cards. The news alert on my phone goes off every couple of hours, and everyone has an opinion on everything. We are all politicos now, and thanks to global rolling news and social networking we are all in it together and all talking (mainly bollocks) about it all the time.
But if politics just ain’t your thang, there’s plenty more shit going on down. We crashed out of the Euros, to Iceland. ICELAND! A hard-working, thoroughly nice MP was shot – SHOT! – in the middle of her constituency. The Chilcot Report delivered a damning indictment on Tony Blair. There was an horrific terrorist attack in Nice, police gunned down in the US in response to cops killing blacks and there was a failed/fake coup in Turkey.


Jupiter probably exploded in a cloud of news six billion eons ago

The year is only just half-way through and the political landscape has been earthquaked into something messy and new. And we’ve still got the US presidential elections to come. By December we will have been invaded by sentient gas clouds from Jupiter. And no-one will be that much surprised.

Things I Watch When I Am Ironing #8: The Walking Dead (Seasons 1 – 5)

The Walking Dead started out as perfect ironing fodder. It didn’t matter if I had to go and pull stuff off the washing line cause all I’d miss was another zombie being spiked.

But as the show went on it gradually moved, like a slowly rotting corpse, into something much darker and grittier. So much so that by the time I came to the end of Season 5 it had become my favourite Thing I Watch When I Am Knitting show – and for some episodes I didn’t get much damn knitting done.

When we started leaving old-world style relationships behind (ie: as soon as Lori bit the dust) it really took off. I couldn’t buy into the love triangle between Lori, our hero Rick and his best friend (who left him to rot in a hospital and then seduced his wife) Shane. The world was imploding around them, they were living in a tent in a layby with a load of oddballs and eating grass. Weren’t there more important things going on down?

Thankfully, despite Glenn and Maggie getting together, and Bob and Sasha having a bit of a sweet thing, there has been no cringe-making lurve scenes (I don’t count Andrea and the Governor. I don’t think they did either). It has been about loyalty, family, filthy t-shirts and very tight trousers.

Michonne turned up to the party with a sword, a hood and two pet zombies. Beats a bottle of Frascati anytime

Michonne turned up to the party with a sword, a hood and two pet zombies. Beats a bottle of Frascati anytime

And talking of the Governor, while he was a great pantomime villain (eyepatch and immunity to death as standard), things were much more complex when the bad guys were the Terminans and the Claimers and those nutters at the hospital who took Beth. They all had harrowing backstories or warped codes of ethics and more nuances than you would expect from a blood-spattered zombie-fest.

In this world, the law of consequences is a killer – literally. Forget karma. If you don’t take someone out when you have the chance you are sure as hell going to regret it. Morgan can’t bring himself to shoot his undead wife – and we find later she is the one who kills his son. Dale’s death is totally Carl’s fault, for messing with a walker, and letting the Governor live wasn’t a good move for anyone, ever. This doesn’t half mess with your humanity.

Another reason it is so compelling is that anyone could die at any time. Except Rick, obvs, because he appears on the posters for Season 6. Knowing you can lose a major character means you never relax – I was fully expecting to see Glenn go down in the finale of Season 5. And you can’t bond with new characters because you never know if they are destined to be a regular or not. Why does Moses have to die when  Tara and Rosita make it?

Kickass Carol. Don't look at the flowers on that jumper

Kickass Carol. Don’t look at the flowers on that jumper

Bits that made me drop my cable needle

  • Finding Merle’s severed, still handcuffed hand on the roof.
  • The CDC centre going into lockdown and then blowing up.
  • Carl getting shot straight after seeing the stag. So there is still beauty in this world? Nope.
  • Shane reanimating without being bitten. WTF? Did I miss something? Combined with the revelation of what Dr Lister had whispered to Rick, this was jawdropping.
  • The first apperance of Michonne, hooded, with a katana and two chained, armless walkers. Bloody awesome image.
  • The Governor killing Martinez, proving he wasn’t redeemed at all, despite calling himself Brian.
  • Beth getting shot. A perplexing surprise.
  • Rick biting out Joe’s throat. He didn’t see that coming.
  • Bob telling the Terminans they were eating infected flesh after waking up to find they’d barbecued his foot. Right back at ya there.
  • Moses dying in the revolving door. This was horrible. He was a great character, with a strong back story. The revolving door was a brilliant idea and Glenn watching him die through the glass was too harrowing.
  • Carol’s flowery jumper in Alexandria. It was hideous.

Bits that made me throw my stitch holders at the screen

  • Lori telling Andrea that ladies don’t shoot, they do the laundry and the cooking. Waytogo Lori.
  • Beth singing miserable songs. How about a version of Knees Up Mother Brown to cheer everyone up, eh Beth?
  • Beth’s odd and pointless death. Why’d she stab Dawn? Why’d Dawn shoot her? (I read later the Beth actress had a singing career to pursue).
  • Everyone believing Eugene was a top scientists despite his cowboy accent and totally unscientific hairstyle.
  • Bizarre domestic violence plotline at Alexandria. Failed to engage or even interest me.
  • Aiden and his crummy chum Nicholas at Alexandria being dangerous arseholes and no-one talking about it or apparently believing Glenn and Eugene. Infuriating plotline.
Terminus - don't go there. Seriously. DON'T GO THERE

Terminus – don’t go there. Seriously. DON’T GO THERE

Bits that made me cry into my tension swatch

  • Carol telling Lizzie to ‘look at the flowers’ before shooting her. I mean, that whole episode. Sob.
  • Tyreese’s death. That whole episode. More sob.

Things that make me lose track when I am counting stitches

  • The superclean, fully stocked chapel of rest where Beth and Daryl stayed. Who looked after it? Where did they get the bargain bottles of cola from?
  • The hermit in the woods who threatened to call the cops. Had he really been asleep all those months, with a dead dog in the room, and no idea there was a zombie apocalypse going on?
  • The hitchhiker outside the prison they ignored, then stole his bag once zombies had taken him down. He had managed to get that far, alone, and they let him die. That still bothers me.
  • The one-eyed dog at the chapel of rest. I hope it’s ok.