I’ve taken myself on a little road trip this week; nothing fancy, just up the New England Highway to Armidale for a visit with my uni supervisor about a research project. I earmarked Monday to prepare so I could get away at dawn and avoid driving in the dark on those hilly country roads. Well anyway, I’m damned if I know what I did all day yesterday because, despite getting up at first light, I didn’t manage to roll out of the garage doors until noon. I partially blame this on  my dear friends Noel and Sue Nicholson for planning a trip to Siberia in the midst of the current crisis because I awoke to the dulcet tones of an incoming Facebook message complete with photos depicting them literally being escorted from the premises.

In his typical Indiana Jones style, Noel decided to laugh in the face of danger and take more photographs of the event even though I warned him that Russians tend to take exception to things being pointed at them. Naturally I spent almost an hour Googling the hell out of every news outlet from Al Jazeera’s Almanac to the Zimbabwe Zoo Weekly to make sure I didn’t need to organise a rescue effort for my dear friends. It’s a shame they’re safe really because I envisaged an ‘Argo’ type adventure starring another friend, the Blue Gnome. I figured he wouldn’t have looked out of place in Siberia, just a little hypothermic, and he does a nice subtle visual of ‘Go Fuck Yourself’.


Blue Gnomad

Anyway, the second spanner in the works involved the devastated faces of the pugs when they realised I was packing a suitcase. I recently discovered that a group of pugs is called a grumble. I can’t dispute that, although in this case they sat silently miserable to the point where I was overcome with guilt and shunned their outrageously expensive weight control food in favour of scrambled eggs with a side of bacon and peanut butter. It was just a oncer and I was able to leave with a clear conscience although if any of them drop dead with clogged arteries this week I’ll deny everything. You can bet the farm they won’t have left a shred of evidence between them.

You can see now how I found myself behind schedule. I’m three paragraphs into the story and am still yet to mention anything beyond the front gate plus I haven’t mentioned the crucial stuff about ironing Sparky’s favourite socks and filling the fridge with male-friendly food. I know, I know…. cheap attempt at Woman of the Year but I do need to take the opportunities as they present themselves, and seriously, it was just a bag of gourmet sausages and a spag bol with ready-made garlic bread. And chocolate Tim Tams – they’re my ace in the sleeve. On the down side I left a sink full of dishes and I didn’t mention that the washing machine is failing to spin properly but, in my defence, I had to draw the line or I’d be typing this from Macca’s at Cessnock.

Eventually I hit the road at 11.54 a.m. – almost three hours after my anticipated time of departure. In a valiant effort to make up for lost time, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and drove past Pattison’s Patisserie at St Ives, defaulting on the best beef and burgundy pies in the country. To be absolutely truthful there wasn’t a parking spot available or I may have succumbed, even though I’d diligently packed myself a healthy salad roll and a pear. (Note to self: never doing that again). Not only was the roll as mushy as fuck but you try untangling clad wrap with one hand when you’re doing a hundred and ten on the freeway. Plus I think the pear was a cricket ball in its last life. Sparky phoned when I was just going past that island in the Hawkesbury River that used to be an asylum for the insane and when I confessed my whereabouts, God bless him, he made no snide remarks and even pretended to be surprised that I was only an hour up the road. I’m not fooled however, he’ll be saving his comments for later.

I absolutely love the Australian countryside and once I’d manoeuvred my way around the Hexham bypass and found the highway – despite the Road and Traffic Authority’s attempts to bamboozle everyone with their hilarious policy of no signage – the grassy, cow dotted landscape did wonders to lower my stress levels. I soon forgot about the washing machine that doesn’t spin and the Oscar winning performance of my grumbling grandpugs. (And the niggling feeling that I forgot to buy onions for the sausage sangers). I had my iPod recently refurbed and there’s nothing as freeing as flying down the highway belting out Viva La Vida and old favourites like Little Piece of My Heart. I will also confess to a bit of John Denver. And ABBA.

The only disappointing moment was my planned coffee break at Scone. Apparently closing at four o’clock means switching off the coffee machine at three forty-five. Richard Branson would be disgusted, although arguably no more than I was. I don’t know what annoyed me more: the guy’s deadpan expression when I reminded him it was still fifteen minutes until closing time or his smirk when he advised me that he was the only ‘barista’ in town. I had to refrain from suggesting that he should try the recent trend of coffee enemas, although I wouldn’t have phrased it so politely.

Anyway, here I am in my little hotel room, all by myself, trying not to think about the Bates Motel and wishing Sparky was here. Not that I’m really scared to be on my own, it’s just that since I’ve been here, I’ve managed to knock the air conditioner remote control off the wall and according to my iPhone it’s only 4 degrees. Also, when I opened the fridge, the door fell off the freezer and stubbornly refuses to go back on. Worst of all, I’m pretty sure I forgot to tick the tomato sauce option on the breakfast menu for my boiled egg in the morning and no-one is answering at reception. I’m confident the chef will pick up on my omission however because frankly, I don’t know anyone in the world who eats eggs without tomato sauce.


Dear Dr Stephen Morris,

I’ve no idea who you are but you’ve turned up AGAIN on my Facebook page adverts, offering to support and guide me through my pregnancy. I thought we’d covered this earlier! Perhaps when I said that ship had sailed years ago, you failed to understand the analogy. Maybe you’re one of these people who need things spelled out more simply. Understandable. If I had your job I’m sure I’d find it difficult to see the trees for the forests.

To put it more concisely Dr Steve (may I call you that?), if I was indeed preggers, I think you’d find you had your work cut out. Let’s start with the fact that having been relieved of the necessary apparatus, my forthcoming bundle of joy would no doubt be written up in every magazine and medical tome from here to Timbuktu. Thus ‘support and guidance’ would need to include brilliant PR skills together with sage advice for my wardrobe and make-up, particularly if Sparky and I were offered a Vogue cover. And you can wipe that smirk off your face Doctor! Anna Wintour is in a risk taking frame of mind lately and if we ended up looking as goofy as Kanye and Kim, there wouldn’t be enough professional indemnity insurance in the world to cover you.

Secondly, having been through it four times, the thought of another bun in the oven at my age together with nine months of nausea, sciatic pain, heartburn, transporting wee samples in my handbag and having my ribs elbowed all night long, makes me want to jam my head in the oven door. So I hope your cocktail mixing skills are well honed  because ‘support and guidance’ at this point will require more than a fortnightly visit to your rooms for a quick check of my blood pressure together with the dreaded ‘internal’ followed by an account for a hundred and fifty dollars presented with a flourish by your doubtlessly over protective, hatchet faced secretary.

Then there is Sparky. Did you factor him in at all Doctor? I’m only asking because we are a ‘job lot’ him and I. Despite what I may say about old Sparky in the heat of the moment when he pours himself the last of the wine or cancels my recording of Hawaii 5-0 so he can watch The Footy Show, we’ve been an item since I was fifteen and I think I’d miss him when he jumped ship after finding out I was knocked up again. That and the fact that he is currently my only form of income. It’s not that Sparky isn’t fond of children, it’s just that the ones we already have won’t leave home and what with the four of them and ‘extras’ as well as three over indulged pugs, he’s a bit short on patience. It’s a shame really because his raging insomnia, caused by the size of our electricity bills, would come in useful for the three a.m. feed but my gut feeling is that Sparky will head for the hills with more desperate determination than if a Tsunami was lapping at his ankles.

My point here Dr Steve is that despite my insistence to my own daughters that a man is not a financial plan, I’m between careers at the moment so unless ‘support and guidance’ includes a generous weekly allowance, more than one aspect of my life will end up pear shaped if you get my drift. Of course, when I say ‘generous’ allowance, I mean that with a capital ‘G’. Kids these days aren’t satisfied with a Furby and a trip to the cinema in the school hols. I might get away with bibs and booties from Target but you can bet your freezing speculum that by the time my miracle baby is old enough to point out the McDonalds sign with chubby toddler’s fingers, he/she will be demanding an iPhone upgrade every twelve months together with a decent collection of Smiggle accessories to facilitate smooth entry into the cool group at kindy.

There are also the ‘must do’ extras I’ve heard about; Pre School Spanish, Ikebana, and perhaps skiing lessons so the little possum gets enough of an edge to make selection for the 2022 Winter Olympic team. Of course we can’t forget birthday parties. Face painting and a Happy Meal just doesn’t cut it these days. I recently heard of a ten year old whose parents hired a 747 for the day complete with a full cast of Disney characters acting as crew. The entire class was invited except for one poor little bugger who had a Samsung phone. Samsung FFS! I don’t know how any parent could do that to a kid, do you Doctor? Just wanting to be sure we’re on the same page here. There’s also a fifty per cent chance of having a girl which will entail at least three school formals. Between the outfit, hair, make-up, nails and the fake tan, this little exercise can run into thousands. Don’t get me started on Gap Year. Suffice to say, consider yourself warned.

Finally there’s the small issue of private health cover because the age box I ticked on my health insurance brochure isn’t generally thought to embrace that ghastly phrase ‘child bearing years’. The upshot is that when calculating the premium I attracted a discount on the grounds that I wouldn’t be procreating. You see where I’m going with this Doctor? Exactly! Back in the eighties the local public hospital was fine; we even got fresh sponge cake with morning tea and there were mothercraft nurses waiting to relieve you of your screaming offspring so you could catch up on beauty sleep before visiting hours. When I recently met our newest family member in the very same ward those poor unfortunate mums were jostling for space in the kitchenette while they prepared their own cornflakes and they were expected to look after their infants 24/7!

So to finish up here Dr Steve, it’s essential that ‘support and guidance’ includes one of those fancy hospitals that have ‘delivery suites’ instead of ‘labour wards’ and menus printed on fancy paper. I’ve even heard of one place that has a luxury boudoir complete with spa and king size bed so that couples can book a ‘night in’ before going home to a world of sleep deprivation. God only knows why a newly post natal woman would be the slightest bit interested in a romantic interlude but it’s nice to feel you have the choice. Anyway, with Sparky out of the picture I wouldn’t really bother unless of course you’re free Doctor! Perhaps ‘support and guidance’ could stretch to a foot massage. Think about it and get back to me.

I was reading somewhere the other day about a film maker who complained that he could produce movies with as much gratuitous violence as was possible to cram onto ninety minutes of celluloid and nobody batted an eyelid however if he attempted to film sex scenes so explicitly he was accused of creating pornography. He has a point. What is it about sex that is more offensive than watching Braveheart being hung, drawn and quartered? Why is it that we can share a tub of popcorn with our parents while watching James Bond suffer the appalling torture of having his …erm…’nether regions’ repeatedly flogged til he loses consciousness but coyly excuse ourselves to go to the loo as he makes love to a nurse in the following scene. Actually in this case I was doubled over laughing at the improbability of even 007 doing the nasty after such an ordeal so perhaps that’s not the best example, but you do get my drift yeah?

My point being that it’s this bashfulness that causes confusion among those of us who don’t know the ins and outs (no pun intended) of the many euphemisms used to discuss S.E.X. which invariably leads to misunderstandings causing further embarrassment all round. In some ways I understand it. I mean ‘intercourse’ is hardly the most attractive word.  No woman was ever bowled over by a potential lover enquiring ‘I suppose intercourse is out of the question?’ Obviously ‘making love’ is far more romantic and yet somehow it sounds ever so slightly twee but if we cross that off the list we are left with terms like bonking, bumping uglies or shagging; none of which are really inspirational when it comes to persuading someone to ‘come across’. Perhaps this is the root of the problem (there I go again with the unintentional puns); because whoever thought up the words for the actual relevant body parts wasn’t particularly poetic leaving us to substitute with terms such as the extremely infantile ‘willy’ or the cringe worthy ‘lady garden’ and which is why it all sounds so much better in French.

Trouble arises when euphemisms clash with their literal origins. I recall when I was a newly married woman not yet twenty and a couple of young Californian guys came to stay. My brother had invited them to cross the pond but then rescinded the offer when he discovered romance, leaving them high and dry. Sparky suggested we could put them up for a while. One Saturday he took them surfing however, not having factored in his staying power they arrived home without him at lunch time. I had been busy cooking all morning and as they emerged from the showers I called out from the kitchen, ‘hey guys come and check out my buns!’ Well you could have heard a pin drop and when I stuck my head around the door to see where they were, the two of them were gaping at each other completely lost for words. Needless to say I realised I’d made some appalling gaffe and  retreated to the safety of the kitchen flushed with embarrassment.

It’s not a new phenomenon either: a friend’s grandmother was explaining that as a teenager educated by nuns, she led a particularly sheltered life which often left her floundering after she went out into the real world. She recalls one day at work when a colleague was discussing a big night out. After recounting the evening minute by minute she finished by saying how distressed she was when her date reached into his pocket and produced a French letter. Amid the gasps of shock and horror from the other girls at the table, my friend’s grandmother asked in all innocence, ‘my God, what did it say?’ Despite her advancing years, she’s never lived it down. The nuns have a lot to answer for; another convent educated woman told me how she was advised that on her wedding night she would be expected to have ‘marriage relations’ afterwards. When her hapless husband tried to persuade her to join him in bed, she burst into tears and refused to undress because she assumed his family would be appearing at any moment.

It’s not just the Catholic girls who struggled with the vernacular. My adorable sister in law was, and always will be, a babe in the woods despite her education in a large public school. In her first job as a pharmacy assistant she was approached late one Friday evening by a rather self-conscious middle-aged man who looked furtively around before muttering that he would like to buy some ‘Gossamer’, a common brand of condoms. Having little experience in these matters, she immediately assumed he was referring to the popular hairspray and asked him would he prefer regular or hard to hold, bringing forth shrieks of amusement from the pharmacist and causing the customer to bolt out into the street.

The bottom line (oh God, did I just say bottom?) is that there would be far less humiliation and confusion if we could just get over the embarrassment associated with sex. It’s not as if we’re talking about a minority group here and it’s hardly a recent discovery: you only have to look a few pages into the Old Testament before the begetting starts. If we’d just taken more time to get it right back then, I wouldn’t squirm with mortification every time I drive past a particular club where I once worked.  I’ll never recover from the night one of the cheeky barmen asked if I’d ever had a pearl necklace to which I innocently replied, ‘no but I did get a pearl ring for my birthday’. I can still hear an entire bar full of people screaming with laughter.

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted a blog in quite some time. Mainly because I’m leading a life so boring that if somebody made a movie about me it wouldn’t sell as well as a documentary about the ten slowest moments in the history of Test Cricket. That’s not to say I haven’t been out and about. I did visit Hawaii in February and spent a week swanning around Waikiki pretending I had money.

That’s the trouble when you accompany your travel writer daughter on a junket to evaluate the latest Trump Hotel. The accommodation might be free but when you pay your account at the bar and find you just spent twenty-five bucks on a gin and tonic, you almost choke over your three dollar olive. I say almost because it’s surprising how adept one can be at performing the Heimlich manoeuvre on oneself when it suddenly hits you that you can’t recall paying for travel insurance in a country that charges ten grand a day for a hospital bed. In fact it would be cheaper to book the penthouse and have the doctor over for cocktails.

I have no idea what the daily room rate was however if the stunning 180⁰ view across the palm fringed beach wasn’t a dead give-away, you couldn’t fail to be tipped off by the bathroom. It boasted more Carrara marble than the Vatican and provided toilet paper refills tied with satin ribbon embossed with the word ‘Trump’ in Donald’s own personal font. The robes and towels were so white and fluffy it was like being enfolded in marshmallow and the tray full of exclusive French toiletries rivalled any gift I’ve ever unwrapped on my birthday. Seriously, I could have had a holiday in the bathroom.

Hawaii has changed in the thirty years since my last visit. We were picked up at the airport by a cabbie who dispensed with the traditional ‘aloha’ vibe and played a short video on his iPhone about the benefits of converting to Islam. I was a little confused as to why he thought I was a likely contender and could only come to the conclusion that after nine hours in the arse end of Hawaiian Air economy class I looked like someone who’d be infinitely improved by wearing full burka.

Downtown Honolulu was hardly recognisable. The local shops where I have nostalgic (if somewhat traumatic) memories of trying to squeeze my boobs into a coconut shell bra, have been replaced by Chanel and Versace. Aussie families in flip flops are now outnumbered by Japanese honeymooners sporting Burberry bikinis and hand-tooled Gucci shoes. I managed to keep my dignity by looking as bored as possible and when asked if ‘madam would like to see anything’ I replied nonchalantly, ‘no thank you, madam bought everything in Paris last week.’ Thank God I’m a liar.

When the heat and the six digit price tags got old I cheered myself up immensely by finding a bar that started Happy Hour at noon. Yeehaa!! Who could complain about a three dollar Mai Tai? Bree and I spent a lovely afternoon knocking back cocktails like Eurotrash in Monaco. That’s the beauty of American money; the notes are all the same colour and if you’re careful where you place your fingers, you can wave a fiver about as if it was a fifty. To give credence to the charade that we were high rollers, every time we finished a drink we stuck the little coloured umbrellas in our hair. By the time I was downing my fourth; a tall confident Texan sauntered over and asked for my phone number. I couldn’t decide what rankled more; his presumption of my grab-a-granny gratitude or the fact that he resembled Jethro Clampett. I told him bluntly that there wasn’t enough rum in the world.

They say you can fool all of the people some of the time but in my humble opinion you can never fool the help and in this instance I’m talking about Guadalupe, our room attendant. From the get go she looked us up and down and wrinkled her nose as if she’d just stepped in something nasty.  I suspect she saw the economy class labels we ripped from our suitcases despite the fact that I binned them inside a Denny’s bag – and before you look at me like I’m a sausage short of a barbecue I’ll have you know that Denny’s is now retro hip!

Anyway I digress; our suite boasted a kitchenette and the second night after our arrival we put together an antipasto platter with decently priced olives from the local ABC store and sat on the balcony enjoying a few bevvies and the Hawaiian sunset. When we returned from a hard day’s slog on the tourist circuit the next day, we noted that while Gaudy (as we nicknamed her) had cleaned the room nicely, she’d left a dish mop and a bottle of detergent on the sink which we felt was a direct hint that we could do our own bloody dishes thanks very much. I bet she wouldn’t have dared pull that stunt on Donald and Melania, or even Donny and Marie for that matter.

Bree was slightly irritated and wondered whether it was recorded on Gaudy’s notes that we were enjoying a freebie. Personally I think she was clued in by my chain store knickers which I’d rinsed and left drying on the designer sofa. I say this because she’d draped the laundry service bag ostentatiously over the coffee table. The cleaning cost of ladies’ smalls was $7.95 per item. I could buy new ones for less. Like I said; you can’t fool the help.

It’s that time of year when kids are graduating and preparing their CVs along with hundreds of other hopefuls striving to get their stellar careers off the ground in order to pay back their crippling student loans. It takes me back to my misspent youth before I realised that a man was not a financial plan. After matriculating I started a degree in psychology which perversely, nearly drove me nuts as I struggled with the frustration aggression hypothesis. PSYCH101 proved well boring and by the time finals were due I could have cheerfully slapped someone so I opted to drop out before anyone got hurt.

I was full of optimism. I was a fledgling feminist of the seventies and every day I checked the classifieds while singing ‘I am woman hear me roar’ until it dawned on me that the corporate world didn’t hire women who couldn’t type. At least my brief stint with tertiary education enabled me to recognise my growing exasperation in time to prevent me from decking the umpteenth jerk who told me to come back when I could ‘do’ fifty words per minute. What really ticked me off was that the same policy didn’t apply to men. You could be a full cocktail short of a party but provided you had a Y chromosome, someone would take you on. Even a four figure IQ however, couldn’t get you past the tea trolley if your circle bore a cross instead of an arrow.

I decided to take the first thing that came along to tide me over until I could find the job I wanted. Not everyone gets it right first go; Rod Stewart was a grave digger until he met Maggie May and Brad Pitt used to work for a chicken shop called El Pollo Loco before he hit the big time although it could be argued that he just swapped one crazy bird for another. Ellen DeGeneres was apparently an oyster shucker but I refuse to be drawn on that subject due to my inability to go past a good rhyme.

Eventually I took on a position as a dental nurse. I know. Unbelievable. Now I’m not disparaging that noble profession, it’s just that the very word dentist always terrified me and the notion that I’d willingly enter a surgery on a daily basis beggared belief. In the event it was an unmitigated disaster. For starters the uniform was so skimpy that I felt like an extra in a Carry On film and I was never game to bend over for fear of flashing my knickers but mainly I was just crap at it.

The sound of the drill made my blood run cold and I had to be constantly reminded to stop grimacing every time it was switched on. I regularly forgot to tighten the lid on the machine that blended the amalgam for filling teeth and if I had a dollar for every time it flew off sending mercury spraying across the ceiling I could have paid off the national debt. It didn’t half upset Old Miseryguts who would then make me stand on a stepladder and wipe away the mess until I decided to start wearing granny knickers.

One of my duties was to develop the x-rays at the end of the day. It was simply a matter of suspending them in a special solution for three minutes in the darkroom. They were never done on the spot which I realised later was just the tight-arsed dentist’s sneaky way of charging the patient for two visits. Unfortunately I hadn’t been factored into his little scheme. I prided myself on my efforts to maximise my productivity by washing the coffee cups while I waited, however the problem was I’d get side-tracked. At least once a week I’d forget the x-rays and then bolt into the darkroom only to find them completely ruined. The dentist would just about spit bullets in his fury and the patients were never too happy about it either.

I clearly recall one incident which I think may have been the thin edge of the wedge in our boss/employee relationship. A young guy opted to have his wisdom tooth extracted in the chair. It proved to be a nasty, complicated affair and the poor fellow was white with pain. The tension was palpable as the dentist, biceps straining and teeth clenched, wrestled with the unrelenting tooth until suddenly it cracked. There was a sound like a pistol shot and I let out such a bloodcurdling scream that the dentist fell off his stool, scattering instruments across the floor while the patient jumped so high he was practically clinging to the overhead light. It was a total nightmare. With eyes blazing, Old Miseryguts pointed to the door and my humiliation was complete as I was instructed to sit in the waiting room until the procedure was finished. I made sure I didn’t fuck up the x-rays that day.

Things went further downhill a few weeks later when I was sent out to buy him a strawberry milkshake. The surgery was on the second floor of an arcade and as I cheerfully trotted back up the stairs the daft old bastard thought it would be funny to scare me. When I approached the landing he leaned over and shouted ‘AAAGGGHHH!’ Moron. I got such a fright that I threw my hands in the air and the next thing the silly fool was wearing his milkshake. I can still picture him vividly, perched on the top step like a stunned mullet; his scrubs saturated with New Zealand’s finest dairy whip while the thick pink liquid dripped from his bi-focals and covered his bald head like icing on a cupcake. To my absolute indignation he made me buy another and pay for it myself.

The deal breaker came one Saturday when the two of us were waiting on a late patient. It was only a half day surgery and we were making polite conversation. With nothing in common we’d soon exhausted all possibilities. Eventually he asked what I was doing after work to which I replied that I was getting my hair cut. Grinning, he asked ‘where, down below?’ I looked at him in disgust ‘I BEG YOUR PARDON!!!!’ His smile disappeared and he turned scarlet, ‘Oh God, I meant downstairs!’ Bloody hell, I’d forgotten about the hairdresser on the ground floor. It was Mortification Central. The patient was a no-show of course and as we sat there looking anywhere but at each other, it was clear one of us had to go. The following Monday I admitted defeat, swallowed my feminist pride and enrolled in a typing course.

There’s something about cops that just does it for me. I’m not talking real cops you understand although I’m very respectful of the Thin Blue Line and once even sported a bumper sticker which bore the words ‘Cops are Tops.’ Sounds daft but my brother had this idea that the highway patrol might be a bit lenient about any driving transgressions if I was seen to be a fan. What I may have saved in revenue to the state police however, I spent at the local panel beater every time some cow keyed my car with the word ‘crawler’.  Anyway I’ve gone way off track as usual.

It started when I was about ten and the olds used to send me to bed on Saturday nights before settling down in front of the telly with a bottle of claret to watch Homicide. Like most kids I was fascinated by anything deemed unsuitable for my consumption and I’d wait until the soft chorus of snoring drifted up the hall then I’d tiptoe out to the living room and watch Senior Detective David McKay nail the bad guys in forty-seven minutes. Something about the hats, the stance and the slamming of car doors in the opening sequence caught my imagination with a lifelong grip matched only by Walt Disney.

By the early seventies I was into my first infatuation with Senior Detective Frank Banner from Division 4, another of Victoria’s finest. (NSW suffered a lamentable lack of prime time crime in the early years of television.) Banner’s wife was killed in the first episode and as an impressionable ‘tweenie’ I was a victim of what I call ‘tragicrush’ as he channelled his Inconsolable Grief into a Noble Cause.

It wasn’t long before I needed something a little more challenging than car chases and grey suits and I embraced Lieutenant Colombo with the same enthusiasm today’s geeks  expend on the latest  iGadget as I battled to figure out whodunit before the indomitable Mr Falk. I soon realised that all I had to do was start with the least likely character and work backwards. Luckily by then I was at an age where the hormones were kicking in and the delectable Inspector Kellor arrived on the scene to clean up The Streets of San Francisco and set my pulse racing. Truly, there was a time when Michael Douglas was cute albeit in a boofy hair and creepy sideburns sort of fashion. (I mean let’s not kid ourselves, it was the seventies.)

Now before you start wondering just what kind of weird teenager I was, I should mention here that I still had the usual obsessions with the likes of Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, Harrison Ford and yes, if you must know, David Cassidy. In television world however, while some got their rocks off with Star Trek and others fancied the medical route from Dr Kildare to Marcus Welby and onto Hawkeye for a bit of rough; I stayed true to the boys in blue, although I spent a period of the eighties in a maternal fog where I thought the only series heroes who could impress me were those who were handy with a tea towel and could change a nappy without throwing up.

This pretty much narrowed things down to Tony Danza in Who’s the Boss but for some unfathomable reason his character annoyed the living daylights out of me and perversely I wished he’d man up and get a real job.  I’d more or less decided to dwell in reality for a while but then I met the magnificent, the unparalleled, the sexy as all get out Bergerac and discovered my next network crush – the ruggedly good looking, slightly rogue cop in an exotic setting. From there it was only a hop, skip and jump to Hawaii and Magnum PI, although looking back at the handle-bar moustache I don’t know what possessed me.

The early nineties saw me back in the workforce when the kids started school and my favourite time of the week was Friday night. The winkies were tucked up in bed by eight while Sparky retired to watch the football leaving me happily alone with a glass of wine while I drifted off to Oxford to spend a couple of hours with the charming Inspector Morse and his adorable baby-faced sidekick, Lewis. It was an oasis of bliss in the years of juggling my time between the office, orthodontist, after school sport and canteen rosters. Some of my crime fighting heroes from that time lived in books and didn’t successfully make the transition from the page to the small screen; Rebus for example. I imagined him to look like John Nettles and the other guy just didn’t cut it. Same with Inspector Lynley, I pictured him to be blonde and I have to add here that when his pregnant wife was killed I never got over it.

Despite throwing Clooney and Dempsey into the medical mix, hospital shows still leave me cold regardless of how dreamy and steamy the heroes. These days I’m happy to be back in Oxford watching the still adorable Lewis with his young side kick Hathaway, long and lean and as a friend described; with a certain je ne sais quoi. For something edgier you can’t go past Law and Order UK and the general consensus from the women in the household is that Detective Sergeant Matt Devlin is welcome to wave his baton around any time. For the whole package though, you can’t go past Law and Order SVU and that hot alpha male who regularly steps over the line without a backward glance; which reminds me Detective Stabler, where the bloody hell are you?

Before I finish I should mention that there was one real cop I fancied many years ago when working in an all-girl office. He was on point duty at a pedestrian crossing outside our window over the Christmas period and he looked exactly like Jan Michael Vincent with his blonde hair, blue eyes and cheekbones you could hang your washing on.  None of us could get any work done until a colleague invited him in for a celebratory bevvy when he finished his shift on Christmas Eve. He was truly a work of art and we were all jostling for position none too gently until he opened his mouth: ‘geez girls, youse are all rool noice’.  For a split second you could have heard a pin drop and then we couldn’t hustle him out the door quick enough before we fell about laughing and admitted that the fantasy is usually better than the reality.

I recall my first effort at ice-skating. Someone gave me a push and I went careering around the local rink watching everything flash past as I struggled unsuccessfully to maintain control until I finally went down in a screaming heap. I hear you thinking ‘where the hell is she going with this’? Short answer: January! One minute I was sitting on the balcony with a post-Christmas bevvy and a turkey sandwich writing down my plans for the New Year and suddenly I’m hurtling towards the middle of the month before the ink has dried on my resolutions. In fact so quickly are the days passing that I’m not even going to count myself as a flop in that department. How can I fail at something that I never started? I’ve decided to follow university procedure and refer to my resolution effort as a withdrawal.

Really, it’s a relief not having to make sweeping changes to my life at this point. I was planning to be a lot nicer to Sparky but frankly he hasn’t deserved it. Particularly after I kicked my toe on the bedpost on New Year’s Eve and hopped about like a runaway pogo stick using language that would cause Joan Rivers to faint. Far from coming to my aid Sparky rolled around the bed laughing as he reminded me that it was barely one a.m. and that I’d resolved to be more circumspect in my language choices in 2013. Miserable sod. Anyone who has ever incurred such an excruciating injury knows that extreme profanity is essential for pain management.

The no alcohol/dairy/caffeine/white carbs resolution was a ridiculous idea too. No seriously! What if I win a trip to Italy? Imagine sipping herbal tea in Venice instead of those amazing cappuccinos or gadding about on the Amalfi Coast washing down poached tofu with acqua minerale while Sparky is scoffing Fettuccine Boscaiola and quaffing the local vino.  I could get homicidal just thinking about it. Thank heavens the weekly spring clean wasn’t actually gazetted too because I’d tentatively put aside Tuesdays to whip out the mop and bucket and what with the mercury hitting 43⁰ this week, I’d have fallen off my perch face down in a puddle of Pine o’ Clean.

Having absolved myself of the ignominy of failed resolutions I don’t feel so bad about admitting to my Birthday Book shemozzle. You see I was given one by Secret Santa and I spent Boxing Day painstakingly copying down everyone’s dates so I’d be on the ball with the many happy returns etc. Sadly, some cheap bubbly was included in the gift and since free is free, I finished off a good three quarters of the bottle whilst on task. The result is that I have no idea where I put the Birthday Book and I know I’ve missed nearly every Capricorn in the family except for those on Facebook. Actually, thanks to Mr Zuckerberg, I’m tapping out birthday messages for people I barely know while my nearest and dearest doubtlessly think I’m an inconsiderate cow.

Uni has started again. Well to be clear, it never finished seeing as I undertook a summer school unit to hurry things along a little however I had a bit of a break over Yuletide with the intention of hitting the books just as soon as the ball dropped in Times Square.  Somehow in all the pre-Christmas rush I managed to misread the due date for the major assignment and am now having conniptions trying to get everything submitted by midnight on January 13th . I have to tell you it’s not easy trying to get my head around the Crusades. Having spent a considerable amount of the New Year watching Les Miserables I keep wanting to start my essays with ‘Can you hear the people sing?

I can recommend Les Mis if you haven’t seen it already but do take a packed lunch because it’s nearly as long as the first Crusade. On the way home I stopped in at Woolies to buy something for dinner and got a terrible fright because they were putting out Hot Cross Buns. Just when I was thinking that Lent was somehow upon us and that they really needed to re-edit the movie I noticed the tag ‘Best Before Jan 1st’ and remembered with some relief how our supermarket chains like to indulge in shameless commercialism.

Still, the days have just whizzed by and I’m feeling how Alice must have felt when she tumbled down the hole in the ground. The only reason our decorations have been taken down before they became unlucky on January 6th is because the previous evening I accidently left the credit card statement out where Sparky could see it and he packed up the tree, the talking reindeer and all the fairy lights during his ensuing insomnia attack. He’s not very happy with me I can tell you! He keeps muttering about having the most expensive underwear in the world. I was daft enough to ask him to explain and he replied that every year three grand gets chocked up on his Amex and all he has to show for it are socks and jocks. It is a total exaggeration because he also got a beach towel this year.

Anyway, I wish a belated Happy New year to you all. I was hoping to do something altogether witty and amusing to herald in 2013 but I think that ship has sailed: perhaps next year. I was only saying to a friend this morning at the rate I’m going my headstone will read – She never quite got her act together…