The top ten – telephone numbers I know….

I was thinking the other day that there aren’t many phone numbers I actually remember – most are programmed in to my mobile (I’m showing my age just by calling it that – my kids would call it phone without thinking of any other sort of phone!) and so I don’t need to know them.

telephone

So – if I lost my mobile – who would I be able to call (aside from the emergency services, the speaking clock and directory enquiries):

  1. My husband’s mobile.  One of the very few numbers I actually remember – probably from calling it quite so much.  Let’s face it – he probably wouldn’t answer it as he’d be busy on another call – the kids even know the voicemail spiel off by heart from hearing it so much.
  2. Our landline. Admittedly that would freak everyone out!  The only people who phone the home phone are my Nan or cold callers. Or other household members and the call usually starts with ‘why haven’t you picked up your mobile?’
  3. My parents.  They’ve lived in the same house since before I was 2 – and had the same number I’m guessing from when they moved in.  They answer the phone with the last 4 digits of the number – which used to be ‘a thing’ – but I’m not so sure is now?  Back in the day the neighbours all had very similar numbers.  I clearly remember once mis-dialling the last digit when trying to call my folks and then realising I was talking to Auntie Val from down the road!! Once, when my best friend from school had actually lost her mobile (not hypothetically for a blog post) she managed to get in touch with me as she also remembered my parents number from our youth!
  4. My best friend from school.  The aforementioned friend has lived in the French Alps for the last 15 years – and when she first moved there I had this fancy calling account that meant it was cheaper than just using the landline.  However, this meant I had to dial a number first before putting in her number, so it couldn’t be programmed in to the phone. Consequently I remember all 13 digits of her phone number off by heart – similar to knowing my credit card number off by heart too.  Although, in both instances, I can only do the number in one go – if I pause in the middle it completely throws me!
  5. My middle sister.  In a similar vein to 4, my sister has lived in Munich for many years – and so I’ve memorised her number too.  There’s been the odd time I’ve had fat fingers and miskeyed the number and ended up talking to a random German – but generally I get it right!
  6. The office number.  Now this comes with a disclaimer.  I can remember the number that we give out publicly and is on all of our headed paper etc. but when we moved offices 5 years ago we changed exchanges within Birmingham and so couldn’t move our number across.  But – we didn’t want to change the number all of our customers and staff knew – so it gets forwarded every time someone calls it to a new local Kings Norton number.  I have that number saved into my phone for when I call the office (as it’s cheaper!) but don’t know the direct number at all!
  7. My Nan.  Nan has had the same number as long as I can remember – I suspect as long as she’s had a phone in her home, and it’s moved with her over the years (she’s clearly lived in the same Birmingham exchange all that time).  Although it if was an emergency and I’d lost my phone I’m not sure my almost 89 year old Nan would be my immediate source of assistance!  And we won’t even mention Nan’s own mobile…….
  8. The doctors’ surgery. Our doctors are great – but getting through to them at 8am for a same day appointment is impossible.  I tend to use the landline on ringback – but at the same time keep pressing redial on my mobile, sometimes in excess of 100 times.  I might not have to physically key in the digits each time – but the number is burned on to my retinas from looking at it so much.
  9. My best friend from work in the 90s.  She – like me – has had the same mobile number since we started working together in the mid 90s – it has therefore been used MANY MANY times in the last 20+ years.  Our teenage daughters are friends now – but clearly they’d iMessage or use social media to contact each other, nothing so retro as actually CALLING each other!
  10. Number 9’s husband’s mobile.  Now admittedly this is not quite as weird as it sounds – as he and I worked together lots in the 90s too – surviving some audits on pretty much caffeine and Haribo.  For some reason his mobile number would also be one I’d remember in a crisis.  And he has been known to be my knight in shining armour in the past – and this story probably needs to be recorded on my blog as it’s been told many time!!  I’d been out for dinner with them both and came home to find my front door unlocked.  At the time I lived on my own and it was pitch black. So lovely friend’s lovely husband picked up his weapon of choice (a squash racket from the boot of his car) and came into the house with me to check for intruders. We searched the house and there was no sign of anything remiss – until I went in to the kitchen and found an ENORMOUS bouquet of flowers.  My now husband had not long had a key to my house, and whilst I’d been out with friends he’d let himself in to deliver me some flowers.  He’d just not realised my front door needed to be manually locked when you left. Needless to say the phonecall to ‘thank’ him for the flowers also included some expletives….

So there you go – my ‘squad’ if I needed to make my one phone call from jail or such like!!

Apologies to my littlest sister and any friend I’ve made since 1996 – but at least you’re off the hook for bailing me out!!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

 

The Wonder

I have been doing the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge for, well, 2017 to date!  Sometimes I’ve shoe horned some of my TBR pile into a category – and sometimes I’ve followed up on recommendations from friends.  However, I was struggling for some categories – but a little Google revealed that Popsugar had some recommendations for all of the categories – so I thought that would be a good place to start!

So – for the category ‘A book about food’ I went for The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.

Here is the blurb:

“An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder – inspired by numerous European and North American cases of ‘fasting girls’ between the sixteenth century and the twentieth – is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.”

First things first I was a bit shocked that the main character, and the person whose view the book is written from – the English nurse sent to investigate – is called Lib – like me. That had to be a good sign?!?

I found this a bit of a slow burner (which looking back I also did with the other book I’ve read by Emma Donoghue – the critically acclaimed ‘Room’).  I kept expecting for it to get going – but it definitely took over half of the book to do that.  There was a lot of descriptions of the Irish Midlands, and the house where the young girl and her family lived.  It all felt a bit repetitive and dull.  Lib wasn’t that nice – and definitely looked down her nose at the family she was ‘observing’ and the other ‘locals’ – particularly their religious faith.  However, most of them did need a good shake – so I can see where Lib was coming from.

I’m not a massive fan of historical fiction (or TV programmes or films) so I guess it’s not a massive surprise I found quite a lot of it a bit dreary (like the Irish Midlands by the sounds of it!)

However, about 70% through (got to love a Kindle!) the book finally picked up – and was a real roller coaster through to the end with numerous twists and turns.  This meant that overall it was an ok book – but definitely just ok rather than brilliant!

I’m not sure how much of it was based on fact – and how much was artistic licence – but terribly sad if this did happen a lot.

In conclusion, I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to read any more Emma Donoghue – but that’s another category ticked off the list.  Just 13 more categories to complete in the next 2.5 months #nopressurethen

 

 

 

Training shoes

This morning I was off to a breakfast seminar to be technically updated about current changes in Financial Reporting legislation.  These seminars are great because I can tick the continued professional development box on my ICAEW renewal, catch up with old colleagues, have a lovely bacon bap* – and miss the morning chaos at home – winning all round!

Anyway – as I was getting ready the youngest said, ‘Mummy, where are you going?’

I decided the above was a bit verbose for a 5 year old, so went with ‘A training course’ – she looked at my feet and replied ‘I don’t think you’re going to be able to run in those shoes Mummy?’

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At the seminar I bumped into one of the retired partners who I hadn’t seen in over 15 years – I had a momentary panic as I couldn’t remember which surname he knew me by.  Then I realised it didn’t actually matter, as he had once signed me in to a client as Libby Purves as he couldn’t remember my surname!

 

* In shocking news there were no bacon or sausage baps today!  The chef was trying out some fancy pants breakfast canapes!!  Whilst they looked and tasted great – you just didn’t have the volume of a bap – and some of the pretty tiny bowls required a spoon, and when you’ve got an essential mug of coffee in one hand (I’ve learnt you need a double caffeine hit before these things, having once fallen asleep and had the notes on my lap clatter to the floor!) you can’t faff with a spoon and tiny canape as well!!

 

 

Don’t Stop All the Clocks

A few weeks ago there was UPROAR because Big Ben isn’t going to bong for many years whilst the Houses of Parliament are undergoing renovations!  People were quoted as saying it may harm tourism?!?!  (To be honest most tourists want a photo with Big Ben in the background not a sound recording of the bongs?!?)

Big-Ben (1)

In the mid 90s I lived on St Paul’s Square in the centre of Birmingham.  There was a church in the middle of the square (cue reminiscing about my brother in law doing a comedy dive over one of the benches in the churchyard the day they helped me move in!)  Anyway – I digress.

St_Paul_Birmingham

 

When I first became resident I was really concerned that the clock would keep me awake – but it didn’t at all.  In fact the only time it was an issue was when the clock was broken and stopped chiming every 15 minutes, and bonging on the hour!  I think my subconscious would wait to hear it – and when it didn’t happen I’d wake up – weird!

We now live within striking distance of one of the churches in our village.  Bell ringing practice on a Tuesday can be a wonderful sound (or it can be quite annoying when children use it as an excuse as to why they can’t possibly get to sleep!)  Again the clock at this church chimes every 15 minutes and bongs the hours. This was very useful before I wore a Fitbit 24/7 – as if I was up in the night with small children I could work out what time it was even if I wasn’t near a clock.

St Laurence Church

The other day the 5 year old announced that as the clock had just struck she was coming in for some lunch – given it goes every 15 minutes, I’m not sure why this particular ringing meant food time?!

Although award for the craziest bell has to go to the church in the centre of Le Biot in the French Alps where my BFF from school and her family live.  There is seemingly no rhyme or reason to when or how many time that bongs!!  But at least I’m not moaning about the cow bells – which apparently most English residents living there don’t like (well, according to the Daily Mail anyway – so it must be true!!)

Le Biot France

Book Review: Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Watermelon

I recently read The Break by Marian Keyes and really enjoyed it – so when my 2017 Reading Challenge suggested ‘ the first book in a series’ I thought I’d go back to the start of Marian’s writing and read  the first book in her series about the Walsh sisters.

Here’s the blurb:

“On the day she gives birth to her first child, Claire Walsh’s husband James tells her he’s been having an affair and now’s the right time to leave her.
Right for who exactly? Exhausted, tearful and a tiny bit furious, Claire can’t think of what to do. So she follows the instincts of all self-respecting adults in tricky situations.
. . . And runs home to Mum and Dad.
But while her parents are sympathetic, Claire’s younger sisters are less so. Helen wants to share the new toy (she means baby Kate). While Anna is too busy having out-of her-head experiences.
So when James slips back into her life, desperate to put things right, Claire doesn’t know whether to take a chance on a past she feared she’d lost forever or face an uncertain future of her own.
But is she as on her own as she really believes?”

Very early on in the book I had a wobble.  Claire takes her 2 day old baby and flies from London to Dublin.  I was concerned about the lack of official documentation, surely there are child trafficking issues if the new baby doesn’t have a name, let alone a birth certificate or passport. Anyway, I gave myself a good shake, and reminded myself it was a book and I shouldn’t be so anal.

Slightly further on – Claire, at her parents’ home in Dublin, phones her husband back in London – but he doesn’t pick up.  Why doesn’t she text him?  Facebook or Twitter direct message him?  Send  him a quick Whatsapp or Snapchat message?  I am confused.  I then check when the book was published and it was 1995!!  This is practically a historical novel!  I hadn’t even graduated or been married the first time back then.  So – I went back to the book with a slightly different view point!!

The book is told from Claire’s point of view – and she thinks around facts A LOT.  Sometimes I wanted to give her a slap and get her to concentrate on the task in hand.

I found the character of James REALLY annoying (and not just because he is giving accountants bad press!) – but he was horrible and controlling and not nice at all.  I also didn’t particularly like either of Claire’s sisters that you meet in this book (so I don’t think I’ll be pursuing the rest of the Walsh family books TBH)

A lot of the writing felt quite frantic, and rush rush rush from topic to topic – almost manic at times. I think Ms Keyes’ writing style has definitely improved over 20 years.

Overall it was amusing, emotional, entertaining and not challenging to read – but hasn’t made me want to go through the entire Marian Keyes back catalogue in order (which was kind of my reasoning for starting with the first one).

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Left To Their Own Devices?: Confident Parenting in a World of Screens by Katharine Hill

Left to Their Own Devices

Recently my parents came over for coffee, and Mum gave me a book to read that  she’d already lent to both of my sisters.  One of my sisters found it particularly useful both as a parent (although her teenagers are pretty grown up now) but also in her work as a family support worker.  She even asked Mum to send her some of the details in the Appendix to give to a family she was working with (as an aside – Mum was well impressed with herself for taking the photo and Whatsapping it to my sis – not bad at 60 something!!)

Anyway – despite me being 43 and the mother of 4, when my own mother says I should read a book then I feel like I have to (even if it won’t fit into a category on my 2017 Reading Challenge!)

Here’s the blurb:

“How do I connect with my fifteen-year-old whose phone needs to be surgically removed from her hand? “How do I stop my five-year-old from throwing an iPaddy when screen time is over? “How do I help my child to stay safe online?” Ten years ago, we didn’t need to ask these questions. But today these questions are very real. And we need answers. Katharine Hill explores the impact of the digital world on teenagers and younger children, giving practical advice on screen time, social media, and consumer culture as well as how to tackle some of the more serious issues such as cyberbullying, grooming and pornography. Whether you are cradling a newborn or riding the rollercoaster of the teenage years, a stranger to Snapchat or have 500 followers on Twitter, this book is for mums and dads who not only want to ‘cope’ with bringing up children in the world of digital technology but to be on the front foot – confidently parenting in a world of screens”

I have to say I really enjoyed the book.  I’d expected it to be all ‘the internet is awful, keep your children away from screens all the time’ etc etc – but it wasn’t at all.  It talked about how the internet can be a force for good – if used properly.  It was also good at explaining the different social media – I’m a reasonably savvy internet user (hey, I’m reviewing this on my blog – which I will share to my Facebook and Twitter accounts) – but it gave some great background on all of the different apps etc that ‘the youth of today’ enjoy.  I also found it really useful to hear the author’s stories of her one son being completely engrossed in a game and the ‘I can’t save it so I can’t come for dinner’ things  that come out of our son’s mouth almost word for word  – it was nice to know we’re not alone.

It is written in a really humorous way – and some of the cartoons in it are hilarious. But it also deals with really serious issues like grooming and pornography – and it’s definitely given me food for thought for talking to all 4 of my children about these things.

It’s got sensible advice, and sources of additional information and support – exactly what any 21st century parent needs to help them in this often tricky journey of parenting.

I have to confess I’d expected it to be a bit preachy (the foreword was written by Rob Parsons OBE who I know has had connections with my parents’ church) but this is in no way religious at all.  There’s one reference to a biblical proverb – but I’m not sure I’d even have noticed that if I wasn’t looking for it.  It’s just a really sensible guide to anyone wanting support with their parenting around the subject of IT.

I would thoroughly recommend this to parents of kids of all ages – different bits were applicable in different ways to mine aged from 14 down to 5 (in fact I did wonder if the first couple of sentences in  the blurb were written after observing our house?!?)

And I still have to ask my Mum how she’s got a signed copy!!

 

 

 

Wonky wigs and sore feet!

Last Friday was a friend’s wedding 40th birthday party, and the dress code was ‘black and sparkly’.   One of my best friends, Mandy, was also in attendance – and we were asked if we’d been shopping together as our dresses were so similar – but we’re just girlie swots who do what we’re told when there’s a dress code!  I love this photo of us (even if we do look like we’re trying to be the next hosts of Strictly!)

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And it’s a good job there was someone taking proper photos, as our selfie attempts (ok, my selfie attempts) were rubbish!  Our teenage daughters would be ashamed…

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My lovely friend Mandy has had a pretty horrible year – having been diagnosed with breast cancer back in January.  It has been AMAZING how she and her gorgeous family have dealt with it – and you can read about just how amazing on her blog which has already helped lots of people going through the same.  Throughout this year, though, I have never seen Mand without a full face of slap and a wig on (she now admits to being a bit of a wig addict)  I may have to confess to initially looking straight through Mandy on Friday night as I’m not used to her with long hair, as she usually rocks a shorter one (thankfully when I realised that she was stood next to her husband I twigged who it was #somefriend!!)

It was really fabulous to be ‘out out’ together. Anyway – much gin (me) and vodka (her) was consumed and there was LOTS of dancing.

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Totally not induced by the booze (ahem!) I told Mandy how bloody chuffed I was she was there and dancing with me.  She agreed, saying back when she’d been invited in February she’d said she’d come if she was up to it – but at the back of her mind she was actually thinking she’d come if she was still here……..

Obviously this induced weeping from me and an emotional hug – but I was clearly being a bit too ‘huggy’ as this voice piped up ‘Er, Lib, you’re pulling my wig off’!!

Thankfully the wonky wig was sorted out and Mand looked at stunning as ever, and I wiped up the snotty face from hysterical, tired and emotional weeping!

If recent years have taught me anything, it’s be grateful for the little things – like dancing with your mate until your feet hurt – and that 40th birthday parties are ace!!

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Book Review: The Woman Who Ran by Sam Baker

The Woman Who Ran

I feel like I’ve known Sam Baker for years (not in a weird stalkery way – honestly!) but initially as editor of Red Magazine – and now as joint founder and regular contributor to The Pool website.  I’ve read some of her previous books (way back when I didn’t bore everyone with book reviews of everything I read!) but somehow this one, published last year, had slipped through my net.  However I needed a book with an unreliable narrator for one of the categories on my 2017 Reading Challenge – and Helen,  the main character in this book, definitely looked like she’d fit that description.

“What is making Helen Graham so jumpy and evasive? Newly arrived in a tiny Yorkshire village, she finds the locals’ curiosity her worst nightmare.

Looking over her shoulder every day, she tries to piece together her past before it can catch up with her. But with everything she knows in fragments, from her marriage to her career as a war photographer, how can she work out who to trust and what to believe? Most days she can barely remember who she is…

She can run. But can she hide?”

I just want to say up front I LOVED THIS BOOK!  I read it as quickly as I could – even staying up late reading one night (which is ridiculous given how sleep deprived I am at the best of times!!)

It is set in the current day – but then also in flashbacks as Helen recounts her story – or what she remember of it – to a man she meets whilst hiding out in the Yorkshire Dales. He, Gil, is a recently retired journalist – with relationship issues of his own.

The book twists and turns and keeps you guessing.  It’s also beautifully written – quite often in books I spot chapters or chunks that feel like they’re ‘padding’ to up the word count – but at no point during this novel did I think that.  Everything is described brilliantly without being verbose – and it’s really atmospheric.

The descriptions of the Yorkshire Dales are stunning – and it also cleverly intertwines digital footprints, domestic violence, everyday sexism and village life throughout the book.

When I read the interview with Sam Baker at the end – along with the book club discussion suggestions – I realised that it was loosely based around The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. And having just Googled the novel (to check which Bronte wrote it) I’ve realised that the character names of Helen Graham and Gilbert Markham are also the same.   Having never read that classic, I didn’t see that of my own accord, but some of you may – and I suspect there are super clever plot alliances that I’ve missed too!  **  Note to self: I must read the original to compare!! **

I can’t say much more without giving the plot of the book away (and I loathe reviews that do that) but it’s definitely a thumbs up from me!

 

Book Review: Crackanory Too Cracked for TV (Audible)

Crackanory Too Cracked for TV

One of the categories in my 2017 Reading Challenge was an audiobook.  I have NEVER listened to a book before – it kind of feels like cheating??  So – I decided to search on Amazon for an audible book for something a) free and b) short – and decided I could listen to it in the car on the way to and from work. I came across Crackanory – and thought this could be amusing….

Here’s the blurb:

“Imagine if Jackanory was set free from its childish shackles. What twisted, funny tales would it unleash upon the world?

Combining some of the UK’s best and brightest comedy writers and performers, this exclusive to audio edition of UKTV’s Dave Channel Crackanory is a master class in storytelling and features an all-star cast including Toby Jones, Katherine Parkinson, John Robins, Robert Bathurst and Simon Bird.

Episode List:

  • ‘Kill Phil’
  • ‘Mummy Business’
  • ‘The Character Assassin’
  • ‘The IT Man’
  • ‘The Egg That Knew Too Much’  “

 

All of the stories were silly / funny / rude / a bit offensive / sweary / amusing / far fetched  fairy tale esque.  They were in bite sized chunks – so throw in a bit of a traffic jam each way, and they were a car journey each.  I enjoyed them – but would also have enjoyed listening to the radio and singing along to some tunes.

I can see that audio books have a place – maybe if you’re partially sighted, or doing a monotonous task for hours and want a distraction. Perhaps if I was to do a long car journey on my own then it would be a good call (although if I did a long car journey on my own I’d probably just enjoy the silence of not having to referee squabbling children!)

All in all – I don’t think I’m a convert – but wouldn’t be scared to download one in the future.  #glowingpraiseindeed