Sunday, 30 December 2012


Generally speaking, I don't reflect. Insight is lost on me. Push on regardless - that's my plan. Imagine David Brent filling in his self-appraisal form. An inebriated Deirdrie Barlow writing her memoir. That's like me. Well I'm going to do some reflection and there's not a damn thing you can do to stop me. It's been a busy year what with the caravan adventure (unfortunate ending), the Olympic Training Plan (abandoned in first week) and the misunderstanding with the Italian police (court case pending). And the low points? Many and varied. Incidents with cakes, hair, winter driving, planking, tossing the caber.  All existentially driven, all catastrophic. Notes from Rural Perthshire will continue, nonetheless. It may be pointless and irritating in your estimation, but it's my life.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


Progress Report: giant slab of turkey (for two) gorn orf. Now in bin. Sprouts just slightly soggy and parsnips congealed unpleasantly in roasting dish. Vegetarian cutlets all round. Ten pound Christmas pudding exploded in microwave. Unable to move due to unfeasibly large slice of compensatory yule log. Random inebriated relatives have arrived bringing further assorted torments including excessive flatulence, flashing ear-rings and buckets of cold turkey. Lucky I brought two bottles of Amaretto. It's going to be a long night.

Monday, 24 December 2012


So, Christmas Eve, and you're knackered. You've lost 50 kilos of sprouts somewhere between the supermarket and the car; your creepy neighbour's just brought you an expensive gift and Auntie Doreen (recently returned from two years in a Mongolian yurt) just called to say she's waiting to be collected from the bus station. Already you're thinking of an Alternative Christmas next year. I'm ahead of you. Here's what's on my list so far:
  • a week's all-inclusive break with an Amish family in Minnesota
  • two days work experience with a local pig farm
  • an  overnight retreat in a small cave on the North York Moors
  • twenty-four hours in a cupboard with a case of pinot grigio 
Let these ideas spark your imagination. By midnight tonight you'll have your own extensive list of appealing Christmas adventures. Ding Dong Merrily on a Shepherd's Donkey.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


In the film of your life, who would play you and why?
Someone I know said Arnold Schwarzenegger - six foot four and built like a brick outhouse - would play him. I had two comments. 'Firstly,' I said, 'you bear no resemblance AT ALL to Arnold Shwarzenegger. Secondly, I can see you've subverted the question to pander to your own narcissistic needs.' In reply to these observations he said: 'Up your kilt. Now leave me alone while I study the legislative precepts of California.'
Who would play me, and why, in the film of my life? I've pondered this question over twenty-four hours, and it's been challenging. Valerie Singleton? Carol Vordeman? Sue Barker? None of these. Three people (combined), I feel, would give a reasonably accurate portrayal of the chaos and confusion that is my life. Bill Bailey (Whimsical Minstrel); Jack Dee (Miserable Git) and Ross Noble (Borderline Insane).
The title of the film would be: I'll Call You When I Know Where I Am.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


A planking youth somewhere in Cheshire

Have you ever tried planking? I've been doing a bit myself recently around the house and found it quite therapeutic. The idea of going large with it, however, out in the environs of Rural Perthshire is daunting. I've been using visualisation of some Outdoor Easy Grade Planks by way of preparation. Park bench. Side of swimming pool. Top of  low wall. All Easy Grade. The risk that my photograph may appear in the local press with the caption: PLANKING WOMAN RUINS SWIMMING GALA is probably great enough for me to limit myself to indoor planks. The benefit of course is that I can practise Indoor Medium Grade Planks (and eventually Advanced Grade) in the safety of my own home. Just for your interest, an example of Medium Grade is Top of Fridge, and an Advanced Grade, Top of 32 inch Flat Screen Television.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


December 19th: cupboards stuffed with cake and chocolates. Have eaten four mince pies, half a yule log and a bucket of maltesers since breakfast. Considering opening presents under the tree (not for me) which definitely contain more confectionary. Clearly I am experiencing Seasonal Highly Intensive Tension and need to take action. But what level of action is required? Banning myself from the supermarket until 2013 seems too little intervention. Selling everything I own and joining a nomadic tribe in Central Africa seems - arguably - too severe. Whilst my loss of self-control is considerably disturbing, I must say I wasn't involved in the recent brawl on the floor of our local M & S for their final frozen turkey. (A seventy year old woman got it - apparently her flying rugby tackle was sensational). And I did replace the chocolates for my neighbours which I had - let's say - mislaid. So, I've made my decision. (Dramatic pause of 30 seconds).
I plan to sit in a wardrobe with a bag over my head. I'm going in tomorrow. Someone get me out after Christmas.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


                                          Mrs Taggart goes understated this Christmas

Traditionally, I've gone for tasteful festive decorations. You know the sort of thing. Red and gold baubles on a real tree; a small selection of subtlely fragranced candles; an understated holly and mistletoe wreath (possibly with a notion of glitter). You'd never see any plastic tat in my house. As for Christmas inflatables, I'd rather slum it in Tesco in my pyjamas (it only happened once) than put a giant gormless Santa on the  roof. I have to tell you - things have changed. My friend Mrs Taggart has finally worn me down with her feckless Liverpudlian ways. This is a woman who can never have enough Christmas tinsel, particularly if it's pink and shaped like a six foot Christmas tree. More is always more in her chaotic world. "Loosen up." she said. "You're house looks like a fracking ad for Country Living." I took the point. As I write, I 'm experiencing a warm, seasonal glow as I enjoy the flashing lights of the sleigh on the front lawn, and the dancing Santa on the table is surprisingly entertaining. I never could do moderation. Someone get me more sherry.

Monday, 10 December 2012


Apparently, the cossack-style hat is the must have item for the discerning woman's winter wardrobe. Now I've never knowingly used a discerning approach at any point in my life. Expecting me to comment on the relative stylishness of different hats is like asking me to choose between dressing as a penguin or volunteering to be the back end of a pantomime horse.
Style, however, is a matter of opinion, if you're asking me. The middle-aged chap I noticed today walking about in Rural Perthshire with blue hair and matching beard clearly had his own style. Or did he. Top style award of the day, of course, goes to the monkey in a sheepskin coat.Why the little fella was shopping in Ikea is anybody's guess, but his choice of winter outerwear will always make him a winner for me. A cossack hat would have been sensational.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


I was in Asda today. As I tried to negotiate my way through the crowds whilst maintaining an air of calm maturity, I heard a random woman behind me in the Christmas baubles aisle say quietly: "I think I'm losing the will to live." I had a brief but overwhelming urge to shout FIGHT!, and watch the ensuing carnage as the repressed rage of the shopping masses exploded in an enormous rugby scrum of a brawl on Asda's shop floor. Believe me, we were that close. I saw numerous incidents of trolley rage as I charged round at breakneck speed to pick up a few groceries. Let me rephrase that. I caused numerous incidents of trolley rage...etcetera. It was all me me me. I'm not proud.
I had to go back in to get one of those Christmas trees in netting and already in a bucket. You have no idea what that thing will look like until you release it from its captivity. A group of bemused shoppers watched me as I lifted out several trees  to select one that (a) wasn't squint and (b) had more than four branches. I chose the best of the bunch. Forty-five minutes later, I lobbed that mother into the back of the car. When I got home, I discovered under the netting a sad little runt of a tree: stunted, squint and bald. Season's Felicitations.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Fracking is back in the news, I notice. There was a time earlier this year when you couldn't get through the day without someone commenting on the relative benefits of fracking in a broken society. It was fracking this, and fracking that. I got totally obsessed with the word and spent weeks experimenting with it in social circles. "A fracking good concert, I thought." "Andy Murray looks fracked off again." "What the frack were you thinking?" After three weeks of this sort of carry on, my 'friend' suggested that I should really add the word to my list of Alternative Expletives. I was thinking that it had a rather whimsical sound when I dropped it randomly into conversation. Apparently not. Well, frack it. It's going on the list, and I'm in the process of bedding it in. Note to self: do your research, and find out what the fracking word means.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Today I drove up to Kinloch Rannoch. Round trip of a hundred miles. Rural Perthshire is a sprawling great county, in case you didn't know. By the time I'd loaded my car with supplies (snow shovel, flask of coffee, torch, blanket, extra clothes, winter boots, small stove, premium bonds), I was twenty minutes behind schedule. The journey featured the following elements: scone and jam, tractor, snow, wrong turn, total loss of visibility, ditch and irate co-traveller. I can't possibly relate the whole unfortunate narrative here. You would probably lose all interest in the trivia of anonymous lives and, I dare say, the will to live. There are lessons I learned today, however, which may be worth passing on. Here they are:
  1. Never carry on driving down a winding country road with your windscreen caked in mud.
  2. Don't keep pressing the windscreen washer lever when you know fine well the bottle is empty.
  3. If you lose control of your vehicle on ice (and on a tight bend), don't brake like hell, you total numpty.
  4. Packing premiun bonds for a hazardous winter drive is worse than pointless. It's COMPLETELY INSANE.

Monday, 3 December 2012


So, I'd been feeling so good about my creative output in this blog. Must be around 10,000 words by now. That's got to be impressive, hasn't it? Well, not necessarily. I can see now that my initial confidence has ballooned into some monstrously distorted perception of my literary skills. How hard could it be, I thought, to write a short story for radio. 2,000 words? I'm so unfazed, slap me.
What a painful and humiliating process to realise what you, the reader, have known all along. 10,000 words, yes. But 10,000 words of UNREMITTING, ALL-ENCOMPASSING GARBAGE.  A content-free blog, you moron (I'm talking to myself here), suggests that the emergence from my brain of a short story written with flair and imagination is as likely as a budgie on a snowboard.
In future, I'll be constantly mindful that quality aways outshines quantity. Will this insight now  inform  Notes From Rural Perthshire? I don't think so.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


I've just read articles on (a) behavioural guidelines for 'middle-aged' women and (b) one woman's experience of turning fifty. Me, I'm too old for clubbing and too young for residential care. I'm in the right demographic one day and in the wrong one the next. The solution to this unsettling lack of clarity in social grouping is to carve out your own niche. Be it Walking like an Egyptian, getting Lost in France or wearing Baggy Trousers, take a stance. Make your own rules. My own behavioural guidelines are fairly loose. I'll not see fifty again, but if I want to challenge perceptions with my unusual dress codes or the use of Klingon greetings when I'm out and about in Rural Perthshire, well, what? Already I'm picturing myself at eighty dancing to Brown Sugar at my nephew's wedding (no sign of that happening this side of a total eclipse of the sun) and looking completely normal. Sorry, I mean paranormal.