Friday, 26 June 2009

The Power Of Naughty Words

Friday, 26 June 2009
I was Twittering earlier and I came across this picture of Lady GaGa setting fire to her boobs in a live performance the night before - check it out!

I think it is completely hilarious, and I have been chuckling about it for a little while now. Why was I drawn to the post? It stood out among a sea of Tweets because it contained the word 'boobs'.

Yes, I am a child.

I know.

Doesn't that word make you stifle a small giggle, at the very least?

Well how about FART then?

That really is the one that does it for me, it must be said. Just slipping an unprecedented 'fart' into a sentence will floor me pretty much every time. Even funnier still is seeing it written down.

I had to write it on a box of stock at work the other day (it was full of old fashioned practical joke type gifts - whoopee cushions, fart whistles etc), and every time I walk past that box in the store room I have to supress a little giggle.

Is it just me?

Surely not. If it were, 'The Young Ones' would never have been as popular as it was, would it? Hmmm... but then again, whenever I try to watch it again nowadays it just isn't funny any more.

Has my sense of humour gotten more sophisticated as I have grown older? Well, I like to think so - I certainly prefer darker, more twisted types of things these days - 'League of Gentlemen', 'Nighty Night' etc. But really, if I'm brutally honest - funny as I do find them, there is nothing that beats the hilarity of someone dropping an incongruous naughty word into a conversation.
Maybe it's just me. Nah - can't be... Is it?
Actually, they're even funnier if they're written in caps. Look, KNOCKERS - see?
My husband always says that he spends most of his life poking fun at the world in his head. His theory is that if he can amuse himself, and get a laugh out of something, well that's infinitely better than not getting a laugh at all. (?)
Even he thinks I am a child.
Oh well, I'm giggling....

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Amy Winehouse wrapping paper !?!?!

If it's true, we'll stock it!

Love their blog!

Michael Jackson - make of it what you will...

Okay, after much deliberation I have decided it would be churlish of me not to write something about the death, last night, of Michael Jackson. I know the web is going to be flooded with pieces about him, but surely that is because he has touched so many lives ( and I don't

Cover of Cover of Off the Wall

mean that in a mawkish way AT ALL)

Blimey, where to begin - what mixed feelings I have about this, about him.

The Jacksons provided the soundtrack to my youth. I am a child of the seventies, and Motown was the music of choice in our household. My oldest sister, Jo, and I, used to sit in our middle room, huddled next to the record player together, staring at the album sleeves of all of those old classics together. My favourite one to look at was 'Off The Wall' - Little Michael had grown up, and look at that record sleeve - his legs went on forever! Joanne informed me that she was probably going to marry him when she grew up . I was far too young to care about that - I just concentrated on learning all the words so I could impress my Mum, my friends at school and anyone else who would listen to me sing them 'at' them!

Then of course came 'Thriller', and that amazing video. There had been nothing lik

Music videoImage via Wikipedia

e it before! We had the largest tv and video set up, so the viewing party was at our house. It was being shown at about midnight or something so there was no way I was allowed to stay up for it, ( I was only 8 or 9 at the time) but I begged and pleaded until they let me stay and watch it . Of course I had nightmares for a week afterwards - poor Joanne, who had to share a room with me, she can't have had much sleep either. (sorry about that. Love you Jo!)

We all learned the 'Thriller' dance, we sang all the songs - we thought Paul McCartney was the nobody in the 'Say Say Say' video - who? Some old bloke singing with Michael Jackson. Oh...

Then a few years later, a new nose for Michael and a new album 'Bad'.

Cover of Cover of Bad

If I'm honest - by this time I knew that liking Michael Jackson wasn't really 'cool'. I was that bit older, my taste in music had become more discerning but this I do remember very clearly. I bought it because I wanted it and I DIDN'T CARE if it was cool or not.

That was the same year, I am very proud to say, that I went to my first major concert, and it was MJ playing at Wembley Stadium. Thanks to my Mum, who bought me the (much sought after) tickets. I think I had such a humungous strop and 'tweenager fit' about 'needing' to go the poor woman had no choice! My other sister (the 'Janis Ian loving, non leg shaving, going through a hippy phase' One - Tanya) was nominated to come with me. I don't think she was particularly thrilled at the thought, but even she was dancing in the aisles with me at what we still agree was one of the best shows we ever went to. He really was a true 'Show Man'! (shame about Kim Wilde though... never mind...)

Truth is, after that, I lost interest in his music. 'Bad' was the last MJ album I bought - I remember at work having to erect a huge cardboard cut out of him when the His-story album came out, but being thoroughly unimpressed by the giant statue being floated down the Thames. I mean, what was that all about, really? We couldn't give the cardboard cutout away by the end of the campaign for that album, child abuse allegations were looking more and more credible, and really the thought of him left a nasty taste ( what a terrible expression to use, but I really can't think of any other more appropriate - soz!).

Then came the Presley marriage (hmmmm...) Bashir interview (CRINGE!) then came Yuri Gellar spouting on about his friendship with him and how 'normal' he is (noone normal would want to be your friend, Yuri - sorry, but if you think bending a spoon is undeniable proof of psychic ability then you're as weird as MJ) and then strange children with strange names appeared from strange women with strange custody arrangements, the whole time his appearance grew more and more bizarre - OMG! It does my head in just reading about your life, Michael - no wonder you cracked up!

I don't know what I thought of Michael Jackson - or what I think of his death now. We are all cynical these days. We know that the world isn't that 'Sepia tinted Motown themed' place where we accept what we're told by the media any more. We are the media these days - this news has been broken throught the internet - twitter and facebook are alive with opinions, jokes, tributes, conspiracy theories.... I just don't know what to make of any of them. I have no opinion - I think I might be sad. I think I may be glad for him - at 50 i don't think I could face what he was facing (50 nights at the O2 or bankrupcy). I know I'm sad for his kids, but then again I may also be glad for them, for their life can never have been anything close to normal- maybe now they will have slightly more of a chance?

One thing is for sure, his music was FABULOUS.Tomorrow when I see my girl friends we will be sure to put some MJ on and get down. Don't know if it will be called a tribute or not, but we will raise our glasses to him and dance like loons, as we always have done, and I hope that we always will.

Peace x

P.S Have a look at this - the Richard Herring piece about it -He seems to sum it up for me really well .

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Mary Portas - Save Our Shops

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

So, did you watch it on BBC2 tonight? By 'It' I mean Mary Portas presenting The Money Programme, talking about the state of the UK's High Street.
Of course, as the owner of a fledgling gift shop business, I was particularly interested in what she had to say - after all, we all know that the retail industry has taken a hard knock in the recession.
Let's face it - she spent a lot of the programme stating what we shopkeepers already know - that it is bloody hard work at the moment - that the demise of many of the major players on the high street has a knock on effect on everyone else out there - and most importantly, that the media has scared the shit out of customers - making them scared to spend any money at the moment! Do you agree? I know I do.
I'm not upset that she spent a lot of the programme painting this bleak picture - showing empty shops, businesses on the brink of collapse - no, I am glad that she spoke up for us. She effectively did an hour long charity commercial for retailers. She highlighted the plight that we are all in - she didn't do it in a begging style - there was 'please come back to your high street', no order to the public to start spending money again. No, she very clearly showed the effects of the recession, and rather than moaning about it, she tried to empower those local businesses that were struggling to hold on by giving them the tools they need to make their business better than ever. In fact, she did it in the best way possible - she enabled them to come up with their own solutions.
I love Mary Portas (can you tell?).
My experience of the recession has been slightly different to those featured in the programme.
Yes, Letchworth Garden City has suffered as a high street destination. (Indeed, I find it hard to believe it ever was a 'destination' to look at it now.) Woolworth's going was a blow, Marks and Spencer's an even bigger one. We only have a small handful of chain stores to anchor us as a shopping centre. It used to be that you could get everything you needed in our town - you may have had to look hard, but it could be done. These days...not so much.
What Letchworth does have, however, is a fiercely loyal core of customers that know that if they don't use it, they will lose it. The people of Letchworth really do shop politically, choosing organic, locally produced, fair trade and environmentally conscious products whenever possible. It is not a particularly wealthy town - indeed it has a higher percentage of social housing than most due to the 'garden city concept' . But one thing it does have, is an awful lot of heart!
I am not a local. I'm from down the road in St Albans. I struggle with the lack of leisure facilities here (well, by that I mean that there aren't enough pubs for a Snorbenser)But I truly am humbled by the strong sense of community that this little town does show me every day. Not a day goes by when somebody doesn't tell me how glad they are that we (the shop, )are here, and still open!

I know it's late at night, and I'm probably being more emotional than is necessary, but I want to thank everyone from Letchworth who has supported us so much in this first year of trading - and everyone from the surrounding areas who make special trips in to see us! Thank you all for shopping locally, supporting small businesses and keeping colour and creativity on your high street!

And so I leave you all with this question - next time you click on to Amazon, or one of the other internet giants who you know your local independent shop can't match in price - do you want your local high street shops to dissapear? Can they match the locals for service, knowledge, expertise in their field? Can they give you the shopping experience you really want?

Thank you for listening to my rant. I'll try not to do it too often. x

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Change The World Wednesdays - The Challenge

On the 'Reduce Footprints' Blog site they have issued this challenge;

For the entire week (yep, the whole week), refuse plastic bags at the store or anywhere else where they are offered. One whole week ... 7 days ... no plastic bags. OR ... If you're already "plastic bag free" ... then, within the next 7 days write a detailed post (or email, letter, etc.) on why plastic bags are bad for the environment.

Well, being already 'plastic bag free' as I am, it is my duty to take up the second part of this challenge. I am going to take the bulk of this text from the 'Turtle Bag' website. They are just one of the brands of reusable shopping bag that we stock in 'Rose and Dylan' (, but their web site seemed to sum it up in the most appropriate way for me;

"The plastic bag is highly over specified for the job for which it was designed. Required to serve us for the hour or two it takes us to get our shopping home, instead it is expected that the bags will last for hundreds of years. The hazards of the plastic bag do not stop with the turtles. (who get caught and die in the discarded plastic bags floating in the oceans) Plastics never fully degrade; plastic bags eventually turn into plastic “dust” which can still be ingested by filter feeding marine animals. Plastic is highly toxic, and toxins in filter feeders are passed up the food chain to the fish and ultimately human consumers.
Until now, no studies were conducted on filter-feeding organisms such as jellies, whose feeding mechanisms do not permit them to distinguish between tiny fragments of plastic debris and plankton, and no studies to assess potential effects on these filter-feeders. It is now known that plastic fragments heavily impact these creatures. When broken into smaller pieces, these tiny plastic fragments accumulate non-water soluble toxicants such as PCB's, and pesticides such as DDT.
Plastic polymers, or tiny plastic resin pellets act as sponges for these chemicals and other persistent organic pollutants, concentrating such poisons up to one million times higher than their concentration in the water as free floating subs. These toxic particles move up the food chain form the small invertebrates and then to fish and then return to us on our plate!"

As Turtle Bag so eloquently put it 'what goes around comes around'. Now here's the 'A Thought from Katrina' moment;

Everybody, think before you leave the house to go shopping - remember - credit cards, shopping list, shopping bag! If you think you're likely to forget, invest in a Fizbag

We stock them in our shop too - they come with a handy keyring fob type clip on them so you can attach it to your keys, or handbag zip or belt hook, or whatever! That way you will always have your shopping bag on you!

My personal favourite is this one, the Envirosax range

They are huge! They come in funky designs, and you simply fold them up and clip them to make them small again - no fiddling with a pouchy type thing. Also they are available in gift sets of five, which I think is a lovely pressie!

We sell many other types of reusable bag in our shop, and they are all well received by the environmentally conscious people of Letchworth. It must be said though that the most popular by far has to the 'I heart' range by Bag It Don't Bin It

We had a small amount of these printed with 'I heart LGC', stuck them in the shop window and watched them fly! We had to reorder quick smart!

Aside from all the bags we sell, I must point you to this link for a string bag you can make yourself. Being a craft fan and a craft fanatic too, this does really appeal.

Maybe I'll have a go at it this week. I'll let you know how I get on with it. Go on, you too...

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The Beginning...

I've always loved 'beginnings'. The whole concept of it is exciting - the newness of it all, the invigorating feeling that anything is possible, the challenge of creation - boundaries and limits don't yet exist, they only creep in when the lethargy that inevitably seeps in allows them to.
So here we are - at the beginning of my new blog. Truthfully, nothing could be newer to me than this whole concept -'blogging'. Maybe thats why I am so excited by it - which isn't a bad thing. I don't mind admitting to you (partly because i find it hard to belive that anyone will ever read this) that I don't have a 'Danny La Rue' (is it still ok to say that, now that he's gone?) what in 'Billy-O' I am doing?

What am I doing?

Why am I doing this?

Still asking myself, I'm afraid. I'll be frank - my Web Guy told me that writing a blog and linking it to my new web site ( - don't look for it, it's not up and running - mainly because I haven't done the category writing I need to for it yet - but hey, commit it to memory if you like ...) will help me in the Google ratings. So that is the main reason I considered writing this. He also told me to get a Twitter account for the shop ( which I have - - that does work) and a facebook page - which, hey - I'm so 'down wid it' I already had one! *snort* (

Okay, so admitting my initial reason for writing this may well offend you 'blog afficionado's. It is - sorry, was - for business reasons that I first entertained the idea. But actually, having thought about it, long and hard, I have decided it isn't the main reason I am writing this - here, now...

How many of you reading this, write your own blog?

How many of you reading this are avid blog readers who would love to write your own, but haven't quite gained the focus necessary for starting one yet?

Me, I wouldn't call myself an avid blog reader. Truth is, I haven't enough spare time to be an avid 'anything' except maybe 'arse sitter' (at the end of the evening, every evening). However I would like to be - when I do read them, I inevitably find myself clicking onto their links and losing an evening surfing the blogs - it's fun! I like to read those blogs that are full of links to common interests, facts,figures, but most importantly - OPINIONS.

To me, that is the true beauty of blogging. A place where opinions can be vented, shared, discussed, ignored if necessary, expanded on if you like... but a place where they have room to exist.

Now, anyone who knows me will tell you - I am a person who is naturally full of opinions - some misgguided - some not fully thought through - some of them plain stupid, but nonetheless I have them - they are mine and I cherish my 'oh so human' right to free thought and (sometimes) free speech.

I am also a person who is very VERY busy. I run a shop (already mentioned i know... but I must plug it at every opportunity -, I have two children who have reached the age where they have a better knowledge of computers, dress sense and social life than me, a chronically overworked husband, a house that is getting past the term 'tumbledown' and closer to the word 'dump', and a very old senile and occasionally incontinent cat. As you can see, I do have many other things pressing on my time!

So back to it, why am I taking the time out to write this blog?

Because I want to. I. Me.

I can give this the work tag, and fool myself into thinking I am doing this as a business tool. that way I can rationalise this 'frivolous' use of my time, with my 'You must always be time and therefore cost efficient' mantra that is subliminally on at me in the background - filling me with guilt if I try to steal 5 minutes with a coffee and a fag. Do you know I haven't taken a proper lunch break in months? My head is fizzing, exploding, zipping about faster that an MTV ad break. My attention span decreases as my 'things to do' list increases. I sometimes feel that I am on autopilot, set for a collision course with myself. Like Freddy Mercury sang about in 'Don't Stop Me Now' - (OMG - the first music reference I use in this thing is Queen - QUEEN??? Bugger...) The point is - LIFE IS HECTIC, too hectic. I want to slow it down, but I don't want to be left behind. What I want is to take time out to do something fun FOR ME.

I can do this. I can take my time doing this. I can ENJOY doing this. I can. And I will too. Just you watch...

Peace x
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