Friday 30 September 2011

Great Rooks From Little Acorns Grow.

Near to my temporary home here in the valley of the River Test there are three oak trees. Two of them contain colonies of rooks while the other is a kind of neutral uninhabited territory between the two tribes. Living here I am able to indulge my love of crows. I am certain that they are at least as bright as I am. As far as I can tell the two trees contain two separate tribes. When I put food out on the lawn one tribe or the other make the first raucous swoop. When the other lot appear they peck at one another rather than the food. At the first hint of risk they all fly off - all except one hero whom I have named "Hook-Beak". At first Gilles thought I was talking about him because he does have a rather Gallic snoz. Hook-Beak kinda wanders round all the various shamozzles with his hands behind his back. As others flap and squabble, he eats. He looks like a retired old crow who never made it to the government but never got defeated either. If I can get an interview with him I'll post it on here. It'll be Frost and Nixon with feathers. First question will be if he has any ideas for peace in the Middle East

Today the guys are feeding on acorns. They edge out carefully like old time sailors in the rigging. Then they harvest the acorn neatly and fly off with their prize. On this beautiful autumn morning I am alive and able to sit at my window and share in their endeavour. I lead a very privileged life. I've been trying to get a photo of Hook-Beak but I can't get close enough.

Friday is a relatively easy day on the bus. My biggest problem is getting the dear little souls out of their front doors. At the tower block today I pressed the intercom and spoke to a lady. "Ee won't be long Love - Ee's doin' 'is teef." She advised me. Now, since he lives on the 23rd floor and has to take a lift (if it works) it means at least a five minute wait. If 14 kids all make me wait 5 minutes I'm gonna run at least an hour late since the schedule assumes that I suck the students onto the bus with a Star Trek tractor beam without stopping. When I hear executives talking about stress I wonder if they know what life is like on the bottom. Saturday tomorrow - joy joy joy - I won't have to get up at

I see the Saudi lady driver is now not to be whipped. I knew that once the king read my views he would change his mind.

Emma thinx: A stitch in time saves some smug bastard from telling you so.

Thursday 29 September 2011

The Chow Mein Event.

The weather is warm and succulent like the juice of a pear on the lips in those last minutes before climax spills into decay. When I was a girl my mother used to describe all old men (and most other men)  pejoratively as "fruity". Essentially this meant unattractive men who still had desires. Now I write about attractive men who have desires. They are often quite unpleasant so I'm gonna think of them as "stoney". Well, today I feel fruity - I guess this is how all those ugly old guys felt. It is sad when a season ends, even if it is Winter. To me there is always that sense of time rushing on with a merciless finality that no pleading or longing will stop. It is also sad when a more transcendent season ends. The closure of the American Space Programme in a sense is the end of a human season. Recently I heard Neil Armstrong talking about the good old days on the moon. At the same time the Chinese are at full lift off to get cheap clothing and chow mein to the Martians. I've heard there are mono sodium glutamate deposits on Venus. I bet some clever guy has already bought them. But, come on yanks, the old space show gave us technology, pride, belief, heroism and focus. You can't just let the grey guys in suits serve out your bowl of gruel while you stand in line to pay penance for having created the modern world. Growth costs money. If we're all gonna be capitalists then we should know that when you're weak you cannot starve yourself back to health. Get that sovereign debt, poke it firmly into some bloated creditors and fire it at the moon. Let them set up a market and crash it there.It'll be a softer landing for all of us.

I was fascinated to hear that 2,000 people had applied for 16 refuse collectors jobs in the city. I know these are not high status posts but look at the alternatives. Call centre robot, burger flipper, exploited door to door chugger (Charity contribution mugger). I wonder what would happen if someone advertised a real job - like making something!

Today I've seen 2 snow ploughs being driven around. In each case the driver appeared to be under the supervision of an official in green vest, safety goggles, construction site helmet and a clipboard. This is the invariable modern uniform of a guy from the Council. A little research shows that they are having a programme of dry run training so that they are ready for the real thing. I guess they won't be rolling at 40 mph in a line of traffic and there might be some snow. I guess you have to get used to that council guy in the cab. But do they know something? 

Emma thinx: Genetic engineering - the final front ear.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Whipping Girl

How far away my home in France seemed today. I saw a car wipe the mirror off a parked vehicle and just keep going. On the petrol forecourt at ASDA a road rager tried to punch in the side window of a terrified old guy accused of queue jumping. I think he was just a bit confused. He made off in terror. The raging bull was about 40, nicely dressed, driving a newly registered big BMW. I sent an early death with boils and suffering ray at him. He scowled back. I'm gonna do a voodoo doll of him later just in case I missed with the hate ray. What I'm trying to say is that it all seems so angry here. It's as if we are overcrowded rats. Of course you can't compare a rural environment with a crowded urban horror of traffic, concrete and suspicion.  Many years ago I wrote a poem when I was living in a run down environment. Check out "Angry Man In The Flats" here.

Suddenly the news is filled with whips. (No black leather or high heels guys). The body in charge of UK horse racing has declared that whipping (of horses) should be allowed but should be reduced. I was once at a horse race where a horse ridden by a well known jockey snapped a leg. The millionaire mega star aimed a tirade of abuse at the animal and stamped off to his helicopter. The horse was destroyed. 

Then came the news that a Saudi lady, Rima Al-Mukhtar is to be whipped for the offence of driving a car - a practice banned apparently not by God, but by guys with beards acting on his behalf.  Now as a lady bus driver I really do feel that we need to get a grip of this kinda stuff. Why do we stand for it? Why do we allow this barbarianism to go unchallenged? Do I hear the answers OIL and DEFENCE CONTRACTS?  In France there is much controversy about females wearing burquas. Several have been fined small amounts. President Sarko believes that it is about the liberty of women, although apparently some women want to look like daleks in bin liners. What I want to know is how you blow your nose when you've got a streaming cold, or if you sneeze? Does it just run down inside the fabric. Is there a special kind of cloth called Sneezelamé? What worries me is that there are religious guys who would like to impose this kinda show on all of us. I don't think so comrades!

The car is back! Looks like it was what Gilles told them. At least he'll be happy and righteous.

Emma thinx: Female lashes? Looks like the Ayes have it.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Yoofs like Jagger

Another day survived with the bus. The number of pick ups and the available time do not add up. Well, they do add up to being late! One of the problems is sleepy headed boys who appear to live unsupervised lives in less than encouraging situations. Ho hum - it's a learning curve and certainly a re-acquaintance with the less advantaged element of society.

Of course the kids all want to listen to pop music radio at high power. They appear to be quite happy with endless commercials for new cars and people who buy old scrap cars. In just one advertising slot the whole of our economic system is exposed. For me the pop music has been a bit of a revelation. I know I'm getting old but to me it all sounds the same semi electronic auto tuned nonsense. Their favourite is called "Moves like Jagger". Does that refer to good old Brown sugar Mick? Surely not I thought. I asked the kids on the bus who Jagger was - nobody knew. I mean old Mick must be drawing his state pension by now- but a bit of You Tube research reveals him to be the inspiration. The guy singing sounds like a robot toy. I'm just gonna have to wise up and get some new stuff on my i pod. I do like Mr Saxobeat - check it out here! I think it's a bit sexy. As soon as I kick them all off the bus I dive back to Radio 4 and head for the depot with nice posh people telling me that we're all doomed. It's such a relief from all that cheerful stuff.

Talking of doom - check this out. The BBC interviewed a money changer in the temple last night. AND HE JUST SPILLED THE BEANS. In fact he spilled so many beans that I don't think all the bean counters are gonna be able to measure the effects of his candour. Watching him I really did not warm to him and I would like to know his agenda. He wants a crash because he needs one to make his big trades and scoop the gold from the Rhine maidens. If they give him an International TV stage to talk up a crash they are playing into his hands surely. He strikes me as one of those guys with eight brains, but not necessarily all connected.(Could he be a scam?) Make up your own minds.

Emma thinx: The wise are too intelligent to bother being clever.

Monday 26 September 2011

Left Right Left Right.

In the office I mumbled a few "hellos" to other drivers. The guy behind the desk handed me some keys and a worksheet. "You've got the 21 seater on locals - it's door to door". I heard a comrade driver give a little ironic laugh. "Hope the little sods are ready!" I walked out to the vehicle which is a kind of stretched mini bus. I had given myself plenty of time to put all the data into Sat Naff. The first pick up was right across the other side of the city. I filled in the tachometer sheet and did the vehicle defect report. Right girl - you've gotta get on top of this. Forget all frilly romance novelist nonsense and do a good job. I had plenty of time. My first pick up was at 0715 and the traffic was still light. Sat Naff chattered away. I tuned the radio to BBC radio 4. Stock markets were crashing...wars were offenders were flashing.....As Euro summit talks controlled the world, I controlled my bus through unfamiliar streets towards a large peripheral housing estate with a troubled reputation. With minutes to spare I pulled up at the base of a dilapidated tower block. Graffiti tagged concrete walls backdropped some fly tipped bin bags and old car tyres. I spoke to Sat Naff about the times we had had together. "Why did you bring me here?" he said. "You brought me here!" I replied. "I am a machine - you have free will". It's a good job he doesn't write novels.

No one appeared. A lady in pyjamas wandered past with a plastic bottle of milk. I got out, locked the bus and went to the intercom. It was out of service. I decided against trying to get in and going to the flat. I gave it a further 5 minutes and drove off. So far so good. The next half dozen went smoothly but I noticed that I was already late. My phone started to ring. I pulled over. "You've forgot one at the tower block". Said a rather harsh voice. "He didn't come out."
"He's got anger issues and couldn't find his tablets - can you go back for him?" Well, I was already late - and now I had a real excuse. I went back. A lad jumped in, punching his fist in to the palm of his other hand. I sat him in the front where I could see him. He plugged himself in to Lady Gaga.  We finished the round and headed for the college. Sat Naff was a wonderful friend, (well, he did want me to short cut through a pub car park but no one is perfect). Gradually I noticed that the kids were kinda laughing and shouting out a couple of words. GOSHE. DRAT. GOSHE. DRAT. They had cottoned on to Sat Naff who is still set on French! I laughed too. I think we're all gonna get along just très bien

Emma thinx: Sat Nav - where your sense of direction becomes the direction of your senses.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Deep Fat and Sexy

The boy done good! Mark Cavendish won the World road race cycling championship with a fantastic sprint. He is always the first to acknowledge his team who pull him in their collective slipstreams to the finish. I wonder how they feel having exhausted themselves to see one man take the plaudits. Very often I hear of people who have climbed Everest. In the old days you used to get a knighthood or at least some imperial gong. Sadly there are now so many Everestians that you might get a column filler photo slot in your local free newspaper and a free pack of budget sausages from a smiling local shopkeeper. Anyway, my point is that there are hundreds of porters and sherpas who seem to do most of the work. Sherpa Tenzing who climbed with SIR Edmund Hilary was himself named by time Magazine as one of the most influential men of the 20th Century. Since then I'm afraid the poor old guides and labourers have fallen back into the shadows. In the case of the cycling I think all those rouleurs who bash out the miles protecting their sprinters should be known as sherpas. In fact I hereby declare the Emma Calin Sherpa knighthood is awarded to the Sherpas: Wiggins, Froome, Stannard, Thomas, Cummings, Hunt and Millar. They are entitled to a free copy of "Knockout" and of course may use the title for the rest of their lives. Arise Sherpas.

How do you feel about deep fat fryers? Do you think that they are an abomination? Do you have one in your kitchen? Are they the last true demarcation of social class? I have 2 view points: 1) They produce delicious food. 2) They should not be allowed in the house.
Last night I cooked dinner for friends. We opened with Breton Duck pâté with asparagus and figs. We moved on to Moules et Frites - that classic dish of France. (Well, Northern France and Belgium). Now, Frites require a deep fat fryer and so it was that Gilles returned from ASDA (That's Walmart for the rest of the world) with a DFF. (I told him not to say the word in case the neighbourhood watch committee found out what we had. Arriving in the lorry was bad enough). He also got some Maris Piper potatoes which we finely sliced. The whole evening got a bit Gallic with aperos going on far too late. Then under cover of darkness Gilles went to the garage and operated the shameful machine. Les frites were delicieuses. The mussels were huge - about twice the flesh of the French ones although the shells were the same size. Oh by the way we decided to try a local British wine. Now, our French wine in Saintonge is reckoned to be a bit plain. The British stuff was plain awful. It was expensive, snobby and sour. Never again.

Emma thinx: You are what you tweet.

Saturday 24 September 2011

I'm a Prol, Fol Di Rol

I will admit to a certain tension in the stomach and sweaty palms as I swung the 52 seater coach through the barbed wire topped rusty gates and out onto the dual carriageway. These are big machines. In recent years I must confess that I have hung out with mainly middle class English folk, none of whom hold large vehicle licenses. I do not know anyone socially who can back up an articulated lorry with a 45 foot trailer (I believe that is a rig and semi-trailer for you guys out there). I'm not a tom-boy - it's just that I had the chance to get the licenses and improve my chances of work a few years ago. Now, I have some lovely middle class friends who are good people and far kinder and sweeter than I am. However, there is a huge gulf between social classes in the UK. AND THE MAIN DIFFERENCE IS MONEY. These days I swan off to the opera, serve foie gras at dinner parties, gabble in a couple of foreign languages, write (and parody) romance fiction and indulge my love of art at any exhibition I want to see. And it is all because there is enough money to give me the resources and time to do it. Left to myself as a bus driver I would be poor and exhausted. I would be buying the out of date stuff at the discount store and maybe dreaming of a take-out pizza as a treat. If you go to the opera or the ballet - take a look around and tell me there that we do not have social,cultural and income apartheid. 

Now, why is this? If I need a lawyer he/she will cost me about £200 per hour. By driving a bus I will get £5.93p an hour. You can argue that the lawyer had to do more training and is more intelligent. I can assure you that an incompetent lawyer will kill fewer people than an incompetent heavy goods vehicle driver. It is far from certain that a lot of the professional classes could handle heavy trucks and buses. The fact is that the controlling classes have skewed all of the systems to maximize their own take and to minimize wages for the working classes.The Trades Unions have lost both their power and, equally importantly, have lost their articulacy and leadership. Maybe this is the natural law of the Universe and that the poor will always be with us. And they will always have souls just like the rich.

So, I survived the check run and I start Monday morning. I know it is gonna be a bit of a challenge because I'm rather a soft old posh trollop these days. I've spotted a greasy spoon burger caravan on the industrial estate so perhaps I can take one home for Gilles as a special treat. I'm not sure where I'll be driving or in what vehicle. I'm gonna take Sat Naff as my friend. (I know it sounds daft but Sat Naff really seems like a friend when I feel a bit lost and alone.) 

We've got some dear friends for dinner tonight - hence all this moules and foie gras discussion. Now that I've got a horny handed job and can bang on about the struggle of the proletariat I'll have to shut up. There's nothing as tedious as the bloody righteous- particularly when  it's only essentially a posture.(I mean if I didn't go to work next week there wouldn't be debt collectors kicking the door).I wouldn't die on the barricades or go without proper harissa paste or a decent cut of lamb in my authentic tagine dish. 

 How far away my home seems now. I wonder if there are any late figs and if the neighbours are harvesting them and the apples. As I cycled back through the industrial estate, past the KFC into the swirl of traffic and the fumes of container trucks I had a quick flash back to my other life. A taxi driver gave me the finger for slowing him down in the bus lane. I quickly snapped out of my dream and gave him a gesture concerning his solitary sex life. I'm re-finding my roots.

Still no car. The garage thinks it might be a semi emotional or electrical problem. Gilles keeps telling everyone that it is the torque converter. They say they'll phone back. They don't. 

Emma thinx: Is wrongeous or lefteous the opposite of righteous? 

Friday 23 September 2011

Where next for determinism?

A gorgeous Autumn day. I am looking out at verdant grass, sparkling with slightly amber dew as the low sun hauls itself above the trees. Oh yes- this is England. Now no church bells mark my hours and once again I will wear a watch. The noose of time tightens. At least I know the words for everything - well almost. I've just been phoning around to get some pâté de foie gras. Can you believe that there is none! Whist on the line to the deli I asked a young girl if they stocked moules. She went off to ask the manager and didn't come back.

Other than imminent economic implosion, the News is filled with uplifting English tales. Eight year old boys apparently put on a cage fight in a social club to entertain the crowd. I suppose I should be shocked - but I'm not. At least there were adults to supervise and I imagine that the parents actually knew where their children were that night. When my brood were adolescents I suggested to various toy companies that they produce inflatable street corners with spittoons so that kids could hang out safely in the warm at home. Since then inflatable friendships and hostilities have been developed by social media and most kids are too badly affected with rickets to go out.

On the subject of pugilism I hear that the boxers of Azerbaijan tried to buy gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics. If you wanna read about this kinda stuff in boxing get my novel "Knockout". It's all true. The book is damn near free at 99 cents or 86 pence on Amazon Kindle. There's SEX too, but I know you wouldn't read it just for that soppy stuff.

I'm not sure what to make of the discovery by Italian scientists of particles that travel faster than the speed of light. I've always known that if you are in a hurry, stockings ladder before you touch them. I've also found out that banks put charges on your  account before you perform any transactions. The philosophical implications for fiction writers are massive. Characters will  move ahead of the plot into a kind of uncharted mist without any causal structure. Come to think of it, I might have already written a couple of novels like this.

This afternoon I'm going to the bus depot to sort out my next career move. I've spotted quite a few lady bus drivers. Dear old Geoffrey will be there to ease me into the system. Once again I am to be a horny handed daughter of toil. Maybe I won't drone on about the shortage of foie gras just yet.

Emma thinx: Causality - the next great step for man.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Wheels within wheels

We awoke at 5am. At least there was Breakfast at Brittany's to look forward to. I try to avoid anything too healthy. I always go for the salmon, the boiled eggs and the ham. I knew that an ordeal lay ahead. The broken down car was sitting sullenly on the car deck. They had put us with the lorries, expecting to tow us off the ship. Gilles had other ideas. He suspected that once the gearbox fluid had cooled it would produce enough friction to get us moving at tick-over revs. If we could sneak out with the trucks and clear immigration we could break down in comfort. And so it was that we found ourselves without transmission about 500 metres (that's 546 British yards) on the safe side of the border. A security guy starts shouting and waving. We shrug in a kinda Gallo-Anglo manner. The guard approaches.
"Thirty years Sir - thirty years I've been in Security Madame - I've seen so much bad parking Sir- Dear me- so much anger....I didn't mean to shout Madame....but you have much anger Sir ....I just see so much of it. Just yesterday Madame, I was on routine patrol in the terminal building. Anger Sir- yes, a man assailed me. Frustration - that's what it is Madame. Frustration leading to anger Sir." The guy was an absolute gent and something of an English eccentric. We offered confusing hands to shake. Well - we are foreign.

We awaited the tow truck. The AA arrived. The car went to the Mercedes dealer. We unloaded all the gear and at about lunchtime arrived at my new home in a breakdown truck. I saw an old guy peer round the gate and then scurry away before he had to kiss and shake hands. Um - no, they don't do that do they. He probably went off to tell the neighbours that a load of pikeys (semi nomadic scrap metal dealers and asphalt contractors) were moving in and they drive around in a lorry.

Well, the house has green grass and an oak tree filled with gorgeous black crows. It's all quite posh really. I keep staring at the red clay bricks - I had forgotten bricks! The house is on a rental contract and Gilles will be taking the train to London. He indulged me by coming to the Test Valley so that I can see Rosina. The area looks like the sort of place where they have the Women's Institute and the Rotary club. To be honest I feel very out of place. I'm gonna make friends with the crows. At first sight there are 2 colonies in 2 separate trees. I have missed garden birds in Charentes.

Emma thinx: Who imagined that tree you're looking at?

Wednesday 21 September 2011

I'm shoving it.

So we cruised up towards the coast.The names of towns had lived their growing signposts of fame, then slipped away behind like rejected talent show hopefuls: Poitiers, Tours, Le Mans. It's really quite alarming to realise that there actually is a weather line at the River Loire. The temperature steadily reduced by about 8 degrees Centigrade as we neared the coast. About a mile from the port there is a Mcdonalds and I could tell that Gilles was getting a bit excited. You see I have the zeal of the convert and see myself as une Francaise , une maitresse de moules, une femme de fromage. All in all too posh to nosh. Not so my Gallic gourmet -"Zay ave zee Big Tasty." He told me. The place was crowded. (The French are lovin'it - but don't tell anyone). We queued behind 4 chavs - baseball hats backwards, bits of bling, a few tattoos. Somewhere in their lives would be a hot hatch with an exaggerated exhaust pipe. I wanted coffee with my Big Tasty meal. "Impossible!" Snapped the serveuse. 
"It is not part of the Big Tasty menu." Mumbled the rude child in an exasperated tone. She was the kind of person who would be rejected by Somali pirates. I ordered 2 Big tasty meals and a separate coffee. I could tell she despised my tactical manoeuvre. We munched - or rather licked and absorbed our soggy baps. I felt like an amoeba slithering my body around the outside of some unspeakable nutrient mass. Gilles pretended to be enjoying himself but I know that deep down he is a flame grilled whopper guy. 

We pulled away. In the distance were the lights of the port. Now -have you ever seen a horse galloping in the lead towards the last fence of the Grand National. Suddenly the animal looks at the fence and says "Nah!- I've had enough." Yes- the car saw those lights and stopped - more or less dead. She did not want to leave France. She could read my pain. The thought of driving on the left had stopped her heart. Gilles started to make unrepeatable remarks about having given le garagiste 1,600 Euros. All that cholesterol and anger at his age could be dangerous. We needed some exercise. The push was only about a mile. We huffed and puffed up to the check in and just about let it roll up to the cabin. I was worried that they might not let us in pushing the car. No one noticed. We were directed to follow a Monsieur red vest. We shrugged and looked helpless. We had our boarding cards. We could ask for Asylum.

There were many shrugs, smiles and "C'est la vie"sentiments. A large lorry appeared driven by a cheerful docker. We explained the story of the newly repaired car. The guy shrugged. "In Charentes they only think of beaches and the sun...this is no surprise."
He towed us on board. He shook our hands. As France slipped away behind us we made for the bar. The beer was French, the tricolore trailed out stiffly behind the ship. I was still a little bit at home.

Emma thinx: Disappointed? But deep down you were right weren't you. 

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Cometh the hour, cometh the spam.

Yesterday the car came back. In the end no oily rag was brandished. Instead 1,600Euros worth of electronic modules were changed. This morning we have been loading up. Most importantly the tandem is coming back with us. Luckily we have a house sitter to look after the old place. I have been tempted to do a kinda wistful poetic wander around the town to fill my memory tanks. At the end of the day you can torment yourself with sentimental wishes and could have beens. You have to cut all that crap and get on with it. I have weeded my flower bed and tucked in the last tendrils of the vines. I often think about all the folk who get sent off to wars or lose their homes in disasters. Most of the stuff we whine about is pathetic isn't it.

I keep catching all manner of gloom on the radio about double dip recession and stagnant economies. The answer it seems is more cut- backs coupled with more spending. Then if we re-structure our European and American economies to encourage domestic manufacturing we can sell our goods to the globalised dispossessed and poor who will no longer have jobs or money. Ah! but we could give them the money. LET THEM EAT CREDIT. Now, why didn't I think of that? To be honest comrades I feel a real sense of alarm amongst our leaders. The shadow of mass unemployment and mobs with little to lose have them peeking out from behind their curtains and pinning medals on their guards. The winter sweeps across us now. I believe we could see a very interesting Spring. The credit rating gurus have increased the cost of Italian borrowing and once again the disembowelled shark jack-knifes in reflex to swallow its own guts. So far our leaders think that the answer to shark attack is to send for better sharks. The answer my lords is to drain the sea.

And so these are my thoughts as I set out on my next little life adventure. I am neither politician nor economist - I write soppy fiction in a kinda purple bubble bath in cold water style. My time in France has shown me the sincerity with which Europeans pursue the ideal of unity. The forming of a federalised American state was by no means certain - it could have gone several ways. Their page was less written. Cometh the hour cometh the man is very different to cometh the decades cometh the men. Leaders - the Romantic novelist battalions are watching you. The tired old stuff won't do.

Emma thinx: Travel broadens the mind: and often your beam.

Monday 19 September 2011

Blue Collar Scholar.

Well, it had to happen. I'm on the way back to the UK at least until Christmas. Gilles has to work in London for a while. (That's where I grabbed him in the first place). There is also the very distinct possibility that I will be getting a job. It's about time! I had enough savings to keep myself propped up during the summer and more or less dedicated myself to writing....and maybe a bit of hedonistic pure idleness. Being able to write in tranquillity without all the jingle jangle has been wonderful. The fruits of these labours should surface over the next couple of months. In the mean time I hope to take the kind of job suited to a Romantic novelist, poet and philosopher. Yes, you've guessed it - I'm gonna be a bus driver. Well, not a really real one. My friend Geoffrey Phillips who did the narration on "Sub Prime" works for a school bus operator and there is vacancy for ME. You may wonder why I have a bus driver's license? Well, I'll leave that question hanging just to excite you. But all this proves exactly what I said yesterday. All those top jobs and inside information never come out to the masses. So, even a minimum wage, no contract, casual job gets sorted out under the radar because you know someone. I am a pluto-rat and a self seeker. I am ashamed. In the case of a bus driving job this is known as Depotism. 

But, I'm putting my shoulders back and breathing that pure air of the proletariat. The British climate is often horrid. I am anticipating cold wet darkness. I will be one of my own people, sharing their struggle, mashing my potatoes into their gravy, voting on X factor, building the barricades, frying my fish fingers, preparing Findus savoury pancakes. The serious issue here is that once again I will be able to comment on the national politics. In France I have always kept quiet because it is not my country and not my place to opine. I have loved my home in Charente Maritime and soon enough I will be back. Maybe the next book will be mega and I can once again think of writing full time. For now I just have a couple of issues on which to concentrate. Remember to drive on the left. Recover my proper accent! 

Emma thinx: One door closes. A trap door opens.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Mia Culpa

As I write I am waiting for the 8 o'clock news on TF1 which will be read by my old unwitting French teacher Claire Chazal. The Nation awaits her interview with the ex IMF chief, Dominic Strauss-Kahn, now safely home from the dangers of New York. I actually wonder what kind of interview it will be since Claire is an old mate of Mrs DSK, the blue eyed ex news presenter who taught me French on channel 2. (Family photo above). Essentially, politics, celebrity, money and power cluster around one another in France just as they do everywhere else. The greats are often the offspring of the greats and the deals, the top jobs and the inside trades are fixed long before the crumbs are thrown to the masses. Of course we all live in a Meritocracy - it's just that it is an hereditary meritocracy. As soon as I've seen the show I'm gonna get straight on here and give you the view from La Rue....

And here is the flavour. OK - he was weak and was morally at fault. He regrets all and his regret will last for ever. He has let down his family and the people of France. There was no violence or coercion and his accuser has told many lies. The judges have cleared him absolutely. When he was arrested he was afraid. He felt himself gripped in the jaws of a machine and humiliated. Maybe there was a plot? Maybe he fell into a trap? He does not know and cannot comment now. As for the accusations of a French lady novelist (NOT ME) that he attempted to have her it is all lies....Yes, he had power as IMF chief (one twitch of his pen could send thousands of you and I to the soup kitchens and the gutter), he never exercised power in the context of personal relations.

So - that's the sexy bit. Then the guy came out of corner. He will not stand for president. (Oh no- because I just decided to give it a miss myself). Who will be the socialist alternative now?

Then it got serious so pin your ears back. If Europe and the USA do not get their acts together, in 25 years we will be an economic wasteland. Remember, before a young lady crossed his path in a New York hotel this guy was so mega that one word like that would have crashed the markets. He's still got a brain (and a thingy) so we should listen. This guy is a so much a capitalist that his computer only has upper case.

So, that is the blog - bit dull because it's not just about ME. Looks like I'm entering a period of challenge and opportunity after's kinda like getting a job! Had to happen one day.

Emma thinx: No regrets? Don't worry - there's still time to catch up.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Shed No Tears.

I'm sitting in my bedroom. If I were to move to my left I would have a view from the window. Only discipline keeps me looking at the pink wall. (Well - what other colour would it be?) All writers need somewhere to work. This simple fact comes to mind with the news that a public appeal has been launched to save Roald Dahl's writing shed. Now, I guess his name will be familiar to you......but let me make a confession. Until I was about 25 I had never heard of him. As a child I read books completely at random. My parents did not read books and never read bed-time stories to us load of brats.(Can't say that I blame them. They worked night and day to pay the rent.) Most of what we read in school was the Bible and I don't think Roald wrote that in his shed. It was when my own kids were young that I became aware of his work - and that was because of the film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" which was on TV at Christmas for about 20 years. Anyway - they want half a million pounds to organise the moving of the shed to a proper museum. Not sure how much I'll be giving to be quite frank.

Thinking of books that I read as a kid reminded me of my own very very special appeal to the people of the world. The first book I read was "Missing from Home" by Geoffrey Trease. It was a very socialist book about posh kids accidentally coming across the poor. It was in a pile of books given to me by a very kind lady called Mrs Lovelock. Now my life story is of a poor kid accidentally coming across the rich. Perhaps I read the book backwards. I was a pretty dumb kid. However, I must say that this book planted those old commie seeds in my brain and now they are in there like those weeds that strangle everything in my herb garden. Well - all that oregano and basil sound a bit bourgeois to me. I would say that this book seriously changed my view of life. If anyone knows where there is a copy PLEASE PLEASE let me know. My treasured copy got kinda divorced and lost in the decree absolute of time.

This weekend marks "Les Journées Européennes Du Patrimoinie". This means that palaces, monuments and chateaux will be open free of charge to the public. The idea is to give everyone a view of our heritage and also to involve them in the notion of its conservation and continuance. There are queues everywhere! There is no doubt that our leaders want to involve us all in the Eurodeal - that notion of the single state, doing away with the idea of war and the economic beggaring of your neighbour. If they do pull it off - to unite Europe fiscally and politically with an educated population fully employed with an equality of wealth and opportunity, it will be one of the greatest achievements of all time. I urge all the leaders of Europe who are reading this blog (and I know you do!) to be conscious of this. Over recent years a "place in history" has required war. Over these next few weeks my leaders - it will require the end to war or you will never be forgiven. If you can hold the show together and retain an agenda for people and not just for the so called markets, you will be THE GUYS. Can you even dream of failure? All the rest of us can do is press our faces into ugliness against the window you have shown us!

Emma thinx: History: Keep out! Work in progress.

Friday 16 September 2011

French Letters

Ooh - I've had a right good old write today....up to my eyes in steamy passion, requited lust, shoulders broader than Cheryl Cole's accent and moistened lips poking out of all manner of ripped clothing. I've just had to take a cold shower to get myself in blog mode. Well - all this thrust and bust set me thinking about the true great lovers of all time, literature and my life long quest for culture of the highest forms. So, let’s start with my dear old mum and dad. Actually they hated each other - but at least you have to have passion for their level of hatred. I'll never forget the day when my father decided to tell me the facts of love. "You know Emma - your mother is a wonderful woman and one day she's gonna meet someone who will appreciate it. When I first met her I could have eaten her. Ever since then I've been wishing that I had..." It was at that moment that I was born as a romantic novelist and poet. 

One day not long after I had met Gilles I was cycling near the Hampshire town of New Alresford where there is a fabulous old fashioned bookshop - all kinda creaky and smelling of old dusty books. I think also there is a hint of lavender, cat and old ladies wotsits. They have a foreign section where I have bought all manner of French Lit. (I mean - you don't have to read it do you!) On this particular day I found "Lettres de Napoléon  à Joséphine." Now, Napoléon was some kinda Romantic Hero. After great battles he would pen her a few lines as thousands of dead and wounded were cleared away ready for the recorded highlights after the late news. Excited by my purchase I got myself to London and presented the book to Gilles and asked him to read it to me in bed. You know - for a French guy his accent's not too bad. The early letters burn with passion and lust: “A thousand kisses await my love - but do not give any to me - they burn my blood." Probably his most famous letter ordered her not to wash because he was on his way home. Look - these are guys who eat boudin, andouillette, oysters and a cheese called "Epoisses" which is so smelly that it is banned on French public transport. (Sadly all of the mentioned products are delicious). Seemingly Napoléon liked her Au Nature. Well - I don't mind a bit of male musk myself (Ooh - I really think that an Emperor could have tweaked my knobs). So I lay there as my lover read the letters of Napoléon to Joséphine. "Ah - he had it bad you know”. After a while he skipped to the end of the book. I asked him to tell me how he ended the last letter. I quote: "They tell me you've got fat like a Normandy farmer’s wife". Well, at least she might have had a bit of tasty cheese in her knickers for him! Bloody Emperors - it's all self self self.

I hear Cheryl Cole is out in Afghanistan with the troops. Apparently she had to go on "Hostile Environment Training". Now, how can anyone who has worked with Simon Cowell on X Factor need that? Give me the Taliban any day. At least they don't pull their trousers up so high.

Emma thinks: Credit rating downgraded? Passion is never over- spent.

Thursday 15 September 2011

An Ode Here? Oh Dear.

Do you recall the issue of the over-size ancestral wardrobes? Briefly, a friend sold a house but left several huge items of furniture in the house. At the time the new purchaser was happy to use them. Now he wants to sell up and the wardrobes must be relocated. Since the previous sale, the owners have fitted smaller windows, blocked doorways and reduced the size of corridors. Now, these items are not clip together flat pack chipboard. They probably contain more oak than all the ships at the battle of Trafalgar. When I previously blogged about this issue I had been asked if I would become the new guardian until a future time when someone in the friend's family would have space to keep them and thus secure their continuance in genetic bondage to persons probably not yet born. Finally I had to admit that I really did not want them. It was one of those moments like when someone asks you if you like their poem/book. For a couple of weeks I avoided the issue but finally I have owned up. Suddenly I feel the weight of about 3 tons of oak lifted from my shoulders. The items still sit in the house in a kind of dark threatening sulk. Hopefully some relative will see sense and buy the house. It seems the most obvious solution to me.

All this brings me on to the matter of how you tell sweet kind well meaning people that you don't want what they want or that you don't like their poem.(I mean poems are quite hard to like. Most poets only like their own poems and they detest and despise all other poets). I once was a member of a poets group who used to meet and read out their latest meisterwerks. Now, of course I was brilliant and so were the others. However, there was one guy who was apparently a top academic. He also was poet in residence for a local football team. Every week his odes appeared in the programme. I'll give you a taste.
                      The wind was rough
                      Our boys were tough,
                      The pitch was full of holes.
                      Our heroes carried on and got
                      Loads and loads of goals.

Now, you guys probably think I'm having a bit of a laugh but I swear  that this was about the level of stuff. He used to assure me that this was just material for the masses and that his true talent was like a coiled secret orchid- too delicate to release among uncultured ruffians. I never felt that we gelled somehow.

So, having been utterly mocked and defeated as a poet I decided to become a business woman and run a poetry competition promoting my company.(This was pure nonsense but I think I got some kinda tax break on the prize money). I called it "The Prestigious Red Square Prize For Literature." By the way, if you are doing any kind of promo there is nothing to stop you using words like prestigious, world renowned, sought after and internationally acclaimed. I asked for poems of up to 20 lines. Most of what I received was appalling. Some contestants took a 40 line poem and combined 2 lines in one. But the best was a guy who wrote about a fairy feast saying:
" And all around were little pixies
   Eating up their soupy mixes"

Well, it's bloody hard to get a rhyme sometimes. Gilles and I had tremendous fun judging the entries and in amongst them all was a wonderful poem by a true poet called Maggie Huscroft. I went on to buy her book "Smoke and Mirrors". We never met but I have great respect for her work. As in all books of poems you end up with a few favourites. "NB - We Eat the Males" always gives me a smile.

Emma thinx: Poets corner? - Yes they can be house trained.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

It's Nuts.

They are dying out. There used to be uncountable millions of them like sparrows. All those wildlife charities and noble  United Nations type institutions should list them as endangered. You know who I mean of course......yes - it's people who can actually fix practical things. I will not bore you with my "no car" woes but just let me say that the problem has been re-classified from technical to "possibly mechanical". This diagnosis is on the basis that the plug-in computer analysis doesn't know the answer. They have sent for a man who actually has a bag of spanners, an oily rag and dirty fingernails. I bet you he's gonna be in his fifties! Now, this brings me on to my own dear sweet oily rag of a superhero - Gilles. Today he did some world controlling on his laptop and then decided to help out some kids with mending their bikes. He has all those sexy widgets that remove sprockets, line up hubs, remove crank tapers and tension spokes. He knows about ball bearings and head set adjustment nuts. What bothers me is that it's only the old grey-beards who know this stuff. All these bikes, buses and batteries are stamped out in China and our whole economy is based on waste and consumption. But comrades - this cannot go on. We're gonna have to make stuff ourselves, make it last and fix it up. We could just flip burgers for the new masters. 

In France there is a great unexpressed fear for the changing world. Europe is in decline economically, having more or less committed suicide by following the short term benefits of globalisation. Morally it could be said that we have re-distributed our wealth through the organ of capitalism. That is true, but we have undistributed our own jobs and talents of our young folk. The French are far more conscious of this issue than the Brits. Now, I'm gonna be quite provocative here and talk about racism even though it is not really allowed. The French feel that the rising power of China and the fact that they are literally buying a lot of the world is a major threat to their lives and traditions. The rich don't want to rock the money boat as yet because they've still got some, but the poor are not so bothered. If sovereign States go belly up in this completely artificial world financial system, will they be for sale? YES.....In France folk in the streets think of this and they have worked it out all for themselves. Our leaders have fiddled while Rome, Lisbon, Athens,  Dublin and whoever next burns. I am a Romantic novelist, a collector of cliché, a purveyor of soft porn and a laureate of the licentious. And even I can work it out! Today, the credit rating guys have down-graded some major French banks. You know, if you slash the belly of a shark it turns and eats its own guts as they spill out. Keep cutting and slashing guys.. we'll be OK.There's a job flipping those burgers. Let's fight each other for it.

The Autumn now wins the mornings and evenings but cannot hold the day. The buzz and passion of a Summer still smile and show a tempting leg. We are alive. There is always wine, harvest and joy. May it ever be. May we always be free.

Emma thinx: Who will make the coffin for the last carpenter?

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Privates On Parade.

I suppose Toulouse Lautrec started it all off. There is an idea that France (well, Paris) is the land of ooh la la with Curvy Chicks in Naughty Knicks. From my own sorties into Pigalle I wonder if any of the Ladies are French. Sexy France exists - but it does not exist in anything like the form that Sexy South London exists. Whenever I throw in some remark about "getting enough" or "I do like a big one" in true "Carry On film" tradition, French ladies look at each other uncomfortably, not knowing whether or not to acknowledge the "Double Entendre". Well it was them who gave us the expression (You Yanks will get this stuff from Benny Hill. See his News Flash here). Of course, they do have sex, probably in very normal quantities but bedroom doors are very firmly closed. However,whilst I grew up in a society of women who would chat over tea, coffee,wine, beer, cider or vodka martini about issues of "personal tastes and behaviour", I find Gallic ladies to be.....well - ladies. For a while I worked in a bakery making famous brand sliced loaves.(Let's call it "Father's Fancy"). The conduct and conversation of the young women was at first astonishing, became profoundly educational and finally deeply human. Maybe this happens in France. I'm clinging on trying to be a writer - but the bread factory beckons. Be sure, I'll report back if I end up there.

I have a feeling that the French privacy laws probably affect some of the attitudes I have described. In the UK, a headline such as "Lady judge and tennis hunk swap balls in Court" are normal. No such thing happens here. Privacy is enshrined in the French constitution. Only since the European Convention On Human Rights was accepted by the UK government have pop stars, footballers et al  taken to Law to ring-fence their lives. This is a tricky one. Much comment surrounds the DSK affair. (Head of IMF and New York hotel behaviour). Seemingly he's always been known as a right old lover of the female form but all the press kept quiet. Now all my Romance writing career I've actually been looking for a role model distinguished world-controlling billionaire. So that's what you'd end up with! No thanks - I'll stick with fantasy if that's the real show. 

Emma thinx: Fallen woman - watch the rush to pick her up.

Monday 12 September 2011

Buddy Can You Spare A Euro?

I don't know about you but I felt pretty wretched yesterday. Those awful events are printed on us like unfading tattoos. Gravity seemed pompous and levity seemed flippant and cold. Just to rejoice in life seemed selfish. I hope all Americans realise how deeply Europeans feel their sorrow. Here in France and I know from friends in the UK, yesterday was a very special sombre day. People spoke of little else and they did not speak much.

This morning the good old BBC re-started the world with the news that UK police had raided an illegal "travellers" caravan site and had  discovered "slaves".  What this means is that all manner of the ugly, the girls too unattractive for sex, the mentally handicapped, the addicted and the mentally ill etc. had been held captive by greedy gangmasters and used as slave labour without pay. Now, to polite middle class British Society this matter appears to be astonishing. These days I can posture as a polite lady offering  French cuisine tips, chatting about fruit jam, the entertainment at restaurants and chortling at my good fortune in life. You see -  I've got a bit of money (AND DON'T KID YOURSELVES - THAT IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT). It was not always thus. Once upon a time as a result of my own failings and lusts I ended up poor and somewhat dispossessed. I had to bear all manner of  trouble. Compared to the suffering of many people's lives it was nothing. I wrote a story titled "Sub Prime". From the dozens of short stories I have churned out this is the only one I try to promote. The rest are trash market dictated product to be quite frank. All I can say about this story is that it is true and that these things go on. It's free on Smashwords because I don't want any money from it. It would be free on Amazon but they do not seem to allow us Indie Authors to price at zero.  If the word "Gangmaster" is only something you've heard pronounced in a journalistic voice on the media then spend the entire sum of nothing and get an insight. I was lucky - I was a migrating bird touching down to re-fuel. There are many flightless birds.

Oh No - money takes the world to ground. Awful wailings and gnashings of imperfectly formed teeth in the French banking world. OK - you buy securities that aren't secure at higher than their value and ghastly gimlet eyed bean counters poke at your balloons. Look - we all know the direction this is heading. Let's hope that it doesn't end up with guys in uniform bellowing simplicities into hungry ears. Now, why would anyone think that could happen?

Emma thinx: Justice: One man one second to act. All men for ever to judge.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Quiet Day

We all know what happened. Much will be said and many will remain silent today. I will be quiet and reflect.

Saturday 10 September 2011

For Whom The Belle Tolls

Still no car. The problem is apparently "technical". Now, there was me thinking that it was purely emotional. A very well dressed gentleman has shown me a black lump of plastic with some umbilical wires  attached and explained that in the case of "electronic modules", other experts have to be consulted. Gilles shrugs and thinks the old gal should go. Over my dead module! She's a friend and a link to right hand drive going back to the first Roman chariot to scramble off the boat in 55 BC. "I came, I saw, I drove on the left"(Veni,vidi,veered) were the first words of Julius Caesar. Every school child in Britain knows that.

The possession of right hand drive in France leads me on to the vexed subject of Les Péages. These are toll paying motorways. They are fabulously smooth and straight runways of black asphalt. They are also tremendously expensive. The journey from my home to the port of Ouistreham  costs about 35 Euros ($48). If you add in 70 Euros ($96) in fuel you can see why I don't get back to the UK too much. The journey is never without comedy if I'm travelling alone. The French have set up all the toll machines for their own people. Now, how chauvinistic can you get? Usually I pull up and try to climb across the car either to grab the ticket or to make payment. My arms are rather short and even sitting in the passenger seat I struggle to reach the slot. I once heaved half my body out of the window, caught my coat collar on the end of the roof-rack bar and couldn't get back in. On another occasion I tried to step out of the car, found myself too close to the machine and managed to twist my foot and sandal under the seat. Then I freed my foot, got it out of the car and my flip flop fell off onto the ground. I then couldn't get the door open wide enough to reach it. I decided to reverse but an angry male had driven right up to my bumper. Quite a queue of impatient left hand drivers had built up by the time I just stretched my arm far enough to reach it. Now I'm getting older I tend to get out of the car and sprint round to the other side. This was after I got cramp in my thigh and had to perform auto massage lying across the front seats. 

An excited neighbour has just told me that she is going to St Jean d'Angely this evening to an "Indian" restaurant. She asked me if I had ever been to one. I tried to explain that in the UK, chicken Tikka Masala is the National dish. English food is Indian/Chinese/Italian/American/Turkish et al or fish and chips cooked by any of them. Furthermore young warriors fuelled on beer, have to overcome plates of mouth blistering vindaloo as a  late night rite of passage before they can become proper football hooligans. She asked me what I would order in an English pub. "Curry and French fries" I replied. In France they have French restaurants. It's a whole different culture!

Emma thinx: Tomorrow will take care of itself unless you want the job.

Friday 9 September 2011

Let's Windfall In Love

The apple tree hangs pregnant with sweet fruit. Any moment it's waters will break and I'll be on the phone to Gilles to come home. The late rains and warm southern air have created a greenhouse climate this last month or so. The tree is a matter of some interest to nearly everyone. An aunt to the South has called to check on progress. She will actually travel up so that neither pip nor peel is  wasted. She has several culinary plans. In recent years the French have rather taken to apple crumble and there is always the faithful old tart - but I don't want to talk about myself all the time. But the point is - and I know I keep on about this - that the affairs of growth, soil and food are the concern of everyone. An unharvested tree is a matter of genuine emotional distress. Even fallers, bruised decayed or wormed are seen as sorrows as if they were lost souls. One of my neighbours will collect the most rotten and damaged fruit from the ground and fight to save some unblemished morsel. Quite often she will present a bag of moribund windfall survivors to me with the cheerful words "they are at their sweetest now - there is little time!" Quite so. I know how they must feel.

Let's talk about love poetry. I saw a great love poem on the web the other day by the writer John Geddes. - obviously about someone he knew. Since that person was inaccessible to the reader, the poet relies on our experience as being at least similar in our own contexts. The great thing about Love Poetry is that most of us know the subject. Possibly more of love is known by its absence and by the experience of longing. My own guess is that many "Love Poems" are not written about love itself, but the intensity and vibrancy of the writing can only come from someone who is newly and desperately in love. If there was one thing I would beg poets to do it would be to write, write, write when such matters are upon them. The tender rage of lips un-kissed will soften with the kissing and harden with denial. Seize your moments and put it out there in print cos I love it! I guess I don't have a favourite love poem but Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's brand of cool fire takes some beating. In my innocent youth I became captivated by Oscar Wilde. His letters to his lover Bosie are  beautiful. Take a look here.(By the way I think that a letter or a paragraph of prose can be a poem. You know it's a poem when each word counts so much that no one counts the words).  On my poetry page I've put up a poem of my own. It's not a "love poem" but it's about being in love on a wet London day and not being with my man. It was one of those days when I was alive to every feeling in the catalogue. Check out "For Gilles".

A very important letter arrived from the Electricity Company. An official would call to do my reading today before noon. I waited in. A young guy in a baseball hat pointed some kind of ray gun at my house and walked on, jigging about to his iPod music. Was that it? Officials just ain't what they used to be. Ever since Tony Blair went cool and took his tie off we've been slipping down the slope. I saw Sarko and Cameron on the TV in Paris. Their suits looked identical but the French president had a centre jacket vent and the Brit PM two side vents. I reckon it made his bum look bigger. I guess statesmen don't have wardrobe guys.

Emma thinx: Love is an any gendered thing.

Thursday 8 September 2011

The Fizz that's the Bizz

Phew! I just read yesterday's blast from the saloon bar. So - today I'm gonna stick to some nice soft subjects like the things we do for our kids. On my twitter tree branch today I met a lady who makes the most beautiful jewellery (Keri Kalwaytis @GardenVibe ) . Seeing the pictures sent me back to when one of the kids had to take part in a "Young Enterprise scheme" at school. I believe that many such activities amount to going home and getting the wrinklies to sort it out. So, I (the team) came up with jewellery making. Several gawky adolescent boys with wavering voices and hair trigger embarrassment issues were set to work with delicate silver wire and mini pliers that seemed to get lost in hands the wrong size for their arms. In the end I (the team) took over production, supply chain and packing. It was a great team effort which was awarded with all manner of entrepreneurial back slapping and speeches from local business folk. I was proud. In fact I was so proud that it nearly wiped out my disappointment at being awarded a B for one of the essays I had helped to shape.

However, nothing has ever erased my shame surrounding my daughter's poetry class at school. Now, she hates poetry as do the kids of most poets. She also hated French. One day she came home in despair. Her world had ended. She had to write a poem. When I could no longer bear the torment of my child.....I wrote it myself. That day I had been standing on a bridge in reflective poet mode.(You kinda wander looking wistful and fay yet with a secret distant intelligence playing on your face like folks on arty TV shows. You have to keep an eye out for traffic. A lot of poets get squashed). Small craft in the Thames were at slack water limbo until the tide turned and their ropes once again took up the strain. I thought of the currents of our lives as we are pulled - often by forces unperceived and how maybe we could use this as a metaphor for the creak and stretch of our souls as we cope in the stream of time. I scribbled out the poem and she copied it - declaring that it was my normal purple "I'm an artist" gush. Well, I was publishing a fair bit in those days, but she had a critical point I thought. I heard no more of it until it was parents' night. I was met at the hall entrance by an excited young teacher who took me to a notice board to show me......yes you've guessed it - my poem. She declared that the child (she was about 12), had a special talent and asked if anyone in the family was "an artist". I put on the commonest of accents and threw in a few grammar errors to show that none of that posh stuff was for me like. I even asked if it could get in one of them apology books where there was loads of different poems. The rest of that year was a torment for the poor child. She was hailed as a poet and lost all of her cred with the Bermondsey Gangsta Girls. I fought back with a few rap rhyme lines that she trotted out and kinda made it back in. The teacher left and I promised never to intervene again.

But, I did. My biggest shame was the Sherbet fountain slogan competition. One of the kids had left a wrapper and I read that you could make up a jingle and win a BMX bike. Now, none of the kids really liked sherbet but I used to buy them out of nostalgia and my love of liquorice. Well, I made up the jingle and sent it off with the wrapper. My line was "It's the liquorice lick with the fizz that's the bizz".  Now - come on - not bad eh? All your Wordsworths and poet laureates - eat your hearts out. Several months later a huge box of sherbet arrived when I was awarded some kinda prize. But who the bloody hell won???? Must have been some big name poet with a publishing contract. I refuse to accept that it was a 10 year old who just wanted a bike.

Emma thinx: Honesty is the best policy-if you can afford the premiums.