Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Hello there. It's shattered, sickly and slightly sloshed of Shoreham here wishing you a very merry Christmas.

Shattered because I've just completed 8 days of 4.30am starts and a night-shift. Sickly because I've just completed 8 days of 4.30am starts and a night-shift, sloshed because I've just completed 8 days of........... And anyway Lemsip and champagne aren't that lethal a cocktail.

Sorry I didn't check in last week. I wanted to, but M&S food hall has driven the equivalent of a Juggernaut through my creativity. Last week I even asked my ever imaginative 4-year old what I should write my blog on. His reply "Paper, or perhaps card." At which point I decided to throw in the towel and go to bed.

So have a very merry Christmas. I hope it brings everything you wish for and a wonderful New Year.

I'll be back on the 5th January, refreshed and raring to go.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Thoughts for Today

Hello and welcome to my blog. I hope you're keeping as well as you can.

Here in the Independent Republic of Shoreham Beach, Christmas lights are re-appearing and it's all looking very festive. We put ours up last weekend and have invited House and Garden to come and have a look. They are taking an unexpectedly long time to respond, which is fine for the moment as I can add bits and bobs to our flashing Santa, snowman and train. I've already got a title for the feature "Sparkles from Shoreham." They won't be able to resist.

Now, my eagle-eyed regulars will have noticed that I've recently got a job stacking shelves. Whilst this involves getting up at half past ridiculous and spending 4 hours with my hands in a chiller cabinet, it's apparently nothing compared to what awaits. Hannibal, his elephants and the mighty armies of Carthage, are due anyday now and will besiege Holmbush for a couple of weeks. Us fearless black clad warriors are on a war- footing. Local reinforcements are arriving every day; peace-loving regulars are stocking up and heading for the hills and we're being hardened by tactics such as sleep deprivation as the carrot of extra hours at time and a half is dangled in front of us. And why? Because it's Christmas. Some think it's a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Christ. Poppycock; it's a battle and I'm in the front line. Skirmishing is expected near the sausage rolls, hit and runs down the aisles and explosions near the till points. Christmas is not a season of joy and goodwill to all mankind, it's a terrifying ordeal only the toughest can survive. So please do your bit to ease the tension, apply the wafer thin mint test before you balance that extra pack of mince pies on your food mountain.

But should Christmas be terrifying? Just imagine this text is going all wavy now and we're transported into a dreamworld. What's your ideal Christmas? Relaxed, peaceful, exciting, romantic, spiritual, an oasis of calm and contentment? Whatever you'd love it to be, put it down on a postcard, and stick it on the fridge. Oh, and at the risk of being a party pooper, I want to whisper in your ear, manage your expectations. People that don't get on 365 days a year, don't get on at Christmas; there is only a half time break between arrival and the Queen's Speech. However, if you've been inspired by the real meaning of Christmas, then all bets are off.

So, what's my ideal Christmas?

1. A lie in - chances of being achieved - 0/10
2. Relaxed - chances of being achieved - varies from 0/10 to 10/10.
3. Fun - chances of being achieved - ditto.
4. Spiritual - chances of being achieved - ditto.
5. Satisfying - chances of being achieved - ditto.

At the risk of making this blog sound like thought for today, I've also been mulling over this idea that we're all in a terrible rush. No time to draw breath let alone read or get to know a neighbour. I wonder whether this is really true or whether we've simply forgotten how to prioritise? The more mobile forms of communication we have, the more chances there are to create the illusion that all tasks are equally important. If we buy into that, we are condemned to spend our lives chasing our tails. My advice? Get a list and prioritise, prioritise, prioritise. These are mine at this second;

1. Publish this blog - top priority
2. Going to bed - unless fall asleep at the keyboard, then move it up the list.

So in the spirit of leading the way, I'm going to publish now and toddle off. Doesn't matter that it's day time, it's night-night from me. Thanks for making time to drop in and see you in a week.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

"Where's the chocolate Mummy?"

Hello there and welcome to my blog. If you're a regular, I hope you've had a good week. If you're a newcomer, wonderful to see you. Come on in, put the kettle on and pull up a chair.

Here in the Independent Republic of .. it's been another quiet week, unless of course, you count nature. Nature has been anything but quiet, having spent the last fortnight partying hard. Whilst we've been trying to sleep, the sea's alternated between fighting and caressing the shore whilst the wind's been providing mood music. In the face of such passion, us poor residents could only hunker down hoping the party would blow itself out. Thankfully it did and now all is calm again, particularly at 5.30am.

I know this because I've just joined an army of early morning shelf stackers. Thus after a 30 year absence, I'm back in uniform but don't have to worry about shooting things this time. Instead, I have to worry about the nuclear impact of getting up at 4.30am most mornings. Previously that ungodly hour was reserved for excited trips to the airport, now it's 4 hours with my hands in a chiller cabinet. I tell you, thermals don't come close. However, it's not all bad because I've discovered the joys of Farming Today.

As I'm pootling along the A27, I learn all about the latest food scares and farming techniques. What marvellous preparation for my morning in the food hall. Admittedly I've not yet been asked whether any of our foods contain Spanish eggs products, but I've perfected my response, just in case. Also I'm seeking out which of our farmers uses robots should a customer want to know whether they or Farmer Giles milked the cows that morning.

As informative as it is, Farming Today unfortunately cannot help me with questions arising from another quarter. As you know Advent kicked off last Sunday, so my Mum kindly gave our 4 year old a religious Advent calendar. Wonderful but problematic. Whereas once the only question was, "can I have the chocolate now?" it's now,

1. "How did Jesus get in Mary's tummy?"
2. "Why did the Archangel put him there?"
3. "What's a miracle?"
4. "Where's the chocolate?"

Any attempt to explain that there was no chocolate in Jesus's day, is met with incredulity, distain and suspicion. The rest is met with acceptance unless he's in a "but why?" mood, in which case all bets are off.

Talking of questions, do you know anyone who was involved in the little ship evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in 1940?

I'm writing a radio drama set on a ficticious little ship and would love to hear from any of the crews or people who knew them so I can get a first hand picture of what it was like. If you can help, please leave a comment on the end of this blog and I'll get back to you.

Finally, I hope those of you who saw my article in the Beach News enjoyed it. If it sounded familiar, it was, having first appeared here, under the title "Eyes Along the Coast." I'll be contributing to the Spring issue too, so please keep an eye out for it.

Got to sign off now. I have to go to bed early nowadays as I don't want to miss Farming Today. Have a good week and I'll see you next Wednesday.