5:00pm Friday 11th November 2011
2:00pm Thursday 3rd November 2011
2:00pm Thursday 27th October 2011
9:00am Friday 14th October 2011
1:30pm Thursday 6th October 2011
We have just finished a discussion about whether Kellog’s cornflakes are actually smaller these days than they used to be – or is it just that 50 years ago our mouths were those of stunted five-year-olds – when my husband looks over to me and says “what are you eating?” in a tone that could wither a field of maize at 50 paces.
1:30pm Friday 30th September 2011
1:33pm Thursday 11th August 2011
8:50am Thursday 28th July 2011
12:16pm Thursday 21st July 2011
8:25am Thursday 14th July 2011
9:22am Thursday 7th July 2011
Six of us are sitting round a table at an annual charity quiz. This local charity is an admirable one and, obviously we all applaud the good work it does but, once we’ve got the raffle tickets over with, things start to shake down a bit.
8:27am Thursday 30th June 2011
There are some real advantages in having young children to take away on holiday with you – priority boarding on the plane, an excuse to go on waterslides, being allowed to squeal out loud with delight when you spot a crab – but travelling a deux without juvenile accessories does have its upsides, too.
8:45am Thursday 16th June 2011
12:12pm Thursday 2nd June 2011
1:34pm Thursday 26th May 2011
I’m not brilliant at remembering what temperature different things should be, which is why, if my husband takes a thermometer out of his mouth, shivers violently, wipes the sweat from his brow and says “aaah… 40.3 ….” he might as well be reciting limericks in Urdu for all the sense it makes to me.
1:30pm Thursday 19th May 2011
1:47pm Thursday 12th May 2011
11:39am Thursday 5th May 2011
12:11pm Thursday 28th April 2011
9:22am Thursday 14th April 2011
8:46am Thursday 31st March 2011
8:35am Thursday 24th March 2011
12:22pm Thursday 10th March 2011
1:53pm Thursday 3rd March 2011
3:25pm Thursday 24th February 2011
1:22pm Thursday 17th February 2011
12:06pm Thursday 10th February 2011
11:57am Thursday 3rd February 2011
I’m standing in the queue for security at Ibiza airport. I’ve been on a whistle-stop tour of the Balearic which is notorious for its summer clubbing but in winter is as quiet as Barry Island, though a lot sunnier, prettier and with better fish and chips.
1:29pm Thursday 27th January 2011
8:48am Thursday 20th January 2011
12:09pm Thursday 13th January 2011
My heart sinks as I open the envelope and see the words HM Revenue & Customs at the top of the letter. One of the customs of Her Majesty’s government is to increase their revenue every January by asking me to slip them part of my earnings from this column. In fact, it’s not until I’ve written at least 250 words that I start to be able to pay for the laptop I’m typing this on. Up until then, my fee goes towards Trident or flu vaccines or the payment of rent and council tax on second homes that turn out not to actually exist. So as I skim the letter, I’m already as sure as damn it that it’s going to remind me that I owe them a cheque by January 31 at the latest. However, despite the fact that nothing is certain but death and taxes, even taxes can do the unexpected now and again. I stop skimming and start reading properly. It’s something to do with National Insurance contributions and changes in the dates of direct debits. Direct debits to HMRC? I don’t think I knew I had such a thing. I go upstairs and hunt for what might be a bank statement, rip open the envelope, and there, sure enough, on page 3 is a line that says 5 March 2009 with a string of random numbers and letters next to it and a donation of almost a tenner. I look up and down the page at all the other entries, and realise how poorly acquainted my current account and I are with each other. I suppose I could make the first move and start opening the envelopes and reading the statements once a month, but the relationship is doomed to failure. I can’t be doing with the tedium, and my current account can’t be doing with the suspicious questioning… go on, prove that I took thirty quid out of a cashpoint machine in Cardiff on May 3, 2010, when I wasn’t even in the area. Oh, yes, sorry, after that concert at the CIA, now I remember … I ring the number on the letter, confident I’ll get no reply while the civil servants are wading through their millions of tax returns, and someone picks up the phone almost immediately. Yes, he assures me, I’ve been paying them a tenner a month for the best part of a decade. No, he assures me, I shouldn’t have been doing so. In fact, he’s surprised I didn’t notice it back in 2004. If I’ll allow him to send me a form, he can arrange for me to receive the £700 overpayment as soon as possible. In the background he can hear the sound of what seems to be a chimpanzee, whooping with delight. That’s me. I’ll allow him to send me the form. Before the money has even left 11 Downing Street, it’s already burned a hole through my current account and is desperately trying to find a new home for itself. Is it to transform itself into a city break to Venice, or to morph into a spa weekend somewhere in the Lakes? Could it be about to become a pair of boots and a new winter coat? A small voice in one of the lesser used areas of my brain ventures that perhaps it could pay off the balance of a credit card, or even sit in a deposit account for a few months, but it’s a very small voice indeed and the rest of my faculties find this idea so risible that I’m pretty sure we won’t be hearing from it again for a considerable time. I’m about to email my husband to tell him the good news about Venice, which has been decided without my even noticing, when the phone goes. I stare at it. This could be the dentist, with news about my broken crown and bridge. Or it could be the garage, with the diagnosis on the elderly Audi’s lack of lights. Or it could be the builder, booking in a slot to repair the extractor fans in the loft. I let it ring and ring until it stops. Then, instead of beginning an e-mail, I go straight to the Easyjet site. While it’s loading, I reach for our passports and my credit card.
10:49am Thursday 6th January 2011
11:53am Thursday 30th December 2010
2:01pm Thursday 23rd December 2010
9:02am Thursday 16th December 2010
12:16pm Thursday 9th December 2010
It’s seven o’clock in the morning, and while the rest of the street is asleep I’m slipping and sliding back and fore between the car and the house, trying to relieve the car of most of its contents before I drive away.
8:48am Thursday 2nd December 2010
8:52am Thursday 25th November 2010
12:33pm Thursday 18th November 2010
8:36am Thursday 11th November 2010
8:44am Thursday 4th November 2010
1:13pm Thursday 14th October 2010
1:49pm Thursday 7th October 2010
11:18am Thursday 30th September 2010
9:08am Thursday 23rd September 2010
11:28am Thursday 16th September 2010
3:30pm Thursday 26th August 2010
When children start to leave the nest, we middle-aged women plan our triumphant return to those distant days when our definition of anxiety was whether we could fit eight supper guests round our second hand Habitat table or who would win the Booker prize this year.
11:54am Thursday 19th August 2010
9:17am Thursday 12th August 2010
I’ve taken a few hours off work to take my son and his mate to an unmarked field on Google maps where they are going to spend two days and nights listening to band after band armed only with a bit of camping equipment and various strengths of alcohol.
3:51pm Thursday 5th August 2010
Your Say Your Gazette
I was a bit taken aback when I read the comments of Don Jones of CAMRA in last week’s My Word column. Sadly he is so far of the mark that not only is he talking ‘balderdash’ but it is inaccurate balderdash. − Allan Collins, Royal Wootton BassettOAPs do pay tax
Last night (September 22) I received a cold call from Brian Mathew, Liberal Democrat candidate for North Wiltshire, inviting me to a Liberal Democrat presentation in Yatton Keynell. I said I wasn’t interested and asked for no further calls, and for my details to be removed from their database. Dr Mathew told me that unless I disclosed my political preferences, he couldn’t guarantee that I would not receive further calls. − Bob Williams, ChippenhamCold calls must stop
Chippenham town not a shambles