I’m Not Pouting, I’m Plotting

I’ve always been a bit of an insomniac and when I can’t sleep I try to plot the perfect murder instead of counting sheep (I never quite understood how that was supposed to work – have you ever tried to count sheep, it is incredibly difficult, they keep moving about)    I watch quite a lot of late night television – no rubbish of course but educational programmes such as Killer Couples or the ever reliable Wives with Knives – which as the title would suggest has a somewhat samey quality!   However Wives with AK47s doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. 

I’ve always been interested in crime –  my first ambition was to be a detective.  This never happened because I don’t think I would have handled the discipline very well and my only qualification would have been that I’m incredibly nosy.   As a child I spent a lot of time writing stories about this plucky little orphan (me) who had amazing adventures.   I had to be an orphan because I suspected that my parents would never have allowed me to rush into a burning building or plunge into a river to rescue an animal in danger, let alone have my own stable – at least not at the age of eight.   As for solving a murder – they would definitely have kept me away from anything like that.   The problem was that my parents got divorced when I was young and I remember that one of my main concerns was how they could die simultaneously after that.   I finally worked out that if they were both rushing to my bedside after I had been wounded while climbing down a cliff to save an injured puppy, they could die in a head on collision.   I was fond of my parents but I was prepared to suffer for my art.   I don’t think I had given a thought as to how I was going to live on a day to day basis when not out solving murders.  

Today the murder is a fantasy (at the moment – just don’t piss me off), and I lie in bed working out the plot of a (yet to be written) novel.   I don’t normally have anyone in mind to kill, although occasionally when a fellow motorist has tried to cut me up or I’ve had a particularly annoying ‘phone call I do have a target.   Obviously killing stranger has advantages because there is no motive but on the other hand only a psychopath would do that and I can’t really get into the head of a psychopath.   Murders are usually committed by the victims nearest and not so dearest.   The trouble is that it gets more and more difficult to commit the perfect murder.   DNA and CCTV have really ruined it for the potential (and real) murderer.

DNA has made things much more difficult – as I understand it you can be caught out by a strand of hair, a fleck of dandruff, the smallest spot of saliva on a cup or glass.   Obviously if the victim is known to you, it is not unlikely that your DNA would be in their house, but I can imagine that if you chose to drown somebody in the bath and they found your DNA on the taps you might become suspect number one.  

And having a strong alibi is difficult with so many CCTV cameras everywhere and mobile ‘phones tracking your every move.   It would be no good my saying that I was at the cinema in one town at the time the murder was committed in another even if I produced a ticket stub that I had got from a friend the police would be bound to be able to prove that I had never left the area..

So one would definitely need a friend or close relation to assist.   Someone who could drive to me, taking my mobile ‘phone with them and having a dummy in the front seat of his or her car.   I’m sure I could get the alibi to work, always provided I could trust the friend.  But first find the friend – you would always worry that they might have one drink too many and tell someone else.   Even If they were teetotal they might still feel the urge to confide in someone and if you were worrying about that you might as well kill them too!    On reflection it would probably be better to do it alone.  

Creeping out under cover of darkness leaving the mobile at home – that does of course mean making sure that you lived or were staying near to the victim.   Then the problem of how to actually commit the murder comes up.   I could creep along to the victim’s house at dead of night.   I would definitely need to have a practice run at it to check out any street lights or security lights.  I have noticed an annoying habit of late whereby people have security lights outside their houses so that if you walk your dog late at night lights pop on all over the place.      Then the breaking into the house – it would be vital to know where there was a spare key that plenty of people knew about.   The simplest method seems to be faking a suicide.   I could take a shotgun, but although not difficult to fire directly at someone, quite hard to make it look like suicide.   You would have to get the angle exactly right.   I believe that it is very hard to shoot oneself with a shotgun – I suppose I could saw off the barrels to make it easier, but that would create problems in itself.   Someone might hear me doing this or find the bits of barrel after they had been disposed of.   Also I would have to get hold of a gun – a piece of cake in America where you can buy one on line or in any local store.   Not so easy over here – there are family shotguns but if I used one of those I think someone might start to suspect me.   Drowning is quite appealing as it doesn’t leave any blood, but how to get someone into the bath if they don’t want to do it?   If I knocked them out the police would be sure to find signs of their old favourite ‘blunt force trauma’.  

Poisoning is appealing but would require a certain amount of research – if only they were fatally allergic to peanuts one might slip traces of them into a tasty dip.   Ideally it would be a poison that was easily obtainable, left no trace and that worked fairly quickly, although leaving enough time for me to get away.   I shall start to investigate lethal substances. Better not look on the internet as I believe you can never delete your browsing history.   No good going to the library and taking out a book on lethal poisons – that could be traced only too easily.   Possibly the best thing to do would be to don a disguise and go to a town somewhere in the north of England where I have no connections and then investigate the subject in a local bookshop.   I don’t know whether Waterstones has a large section of poisons, but I seem to remember that hemlock is pretty lethal.   Next find your hemlock, which I am pretty sure grows in this country – this would obviously be much easier than purchasing some obscure South American drug from Amazon (possibly both the river and the internet market place).   Whoops – I nearly made a very amateur mistake and googled hemlock just now – that would definitely be a silly thing to do.

Finally I need to destroy this document – I have seen enough true crime programmes to know that murderers, who on the whole are not intellectual giants, tend to write ‘how to’ notes to themselves.   Although having said that they are not intellectual giants I realise this may be a fallacious statement as the best ones are presumably the ones who never get caught.

Show me yours and I’ll show you mine!

Apparently if you ask young people today what they want to be when they grow up many of them will say ‘a celebrity’ as if being a celebrity was a career in itself.   They have programmes such as Celebrity Come Dancing and Celebrity Bake Off and, sad old bag that I am, I have usually never heard of any of them.   Sometimes it turns out that they are celebrities because they have slept with another ‘celebrity’ and had their story in the newspapers or more likely in one of the plethora of magazines devoted to what we used to call tittle tattle! – I have to confess I read these avidly when I find them in the dentist’s – even if I don’t have any idea who any of them are!)   If I had slept with a celebrity and he had dumped me I think I would have kept quiet about it.   It has to be said that the opportunity has never arisen so maybe I would have been delighted to kiss and tell, but I like to think not.   And the crying – in public – from men!   I’m sure it is a very good thing for men to be in touch with their feminine side but what was wrong with the stiff upper lip?   Well, maybe quite a lot but haven’t we have gone too far the other way?  As for people’s sexuality – unless you fancy someone does it really matter?   Do we have to announce it every time their name is mentioned in the press, if they are gay, bi or trans?   No one ever writes an article about ‘Straight writer John Smith’

When did we become such a nation of over-sharers?   I had an Italian boyfriend years ago and I had to explain to him that ‘How do you do’ was not an invitation to tell someone about the state of his liver, but merely a statement of greeting.   Not any more!   At some point it became mandatory to go into intimate details of one’s life with complete strangers.   It would be facile to blame social media but the rot set in long before that.   When I was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth people kept things to themselves.   My father used to go to the downstairs loo for half an hour after breakfast every morning with a copy of the Times.   It was years later that I realised he hadn’t gone in there just for some peace and quiet to do the crossword.   I did finally discover that he firmly believed if he didn’t achieve what he set out to achieve every morning between 8.30 and 9.00 the world would very probably end.   At boarding school it was mandatory for small boys to report to matron afternoon breakfast on the state of their bowels.   And it the results weren’t satisfactory they were given a ‘dose’.   Such habits last a lifetime but my father would never have discussed this – I finally learnt the truth from my husband.   I remember visiting an old lady (who I didn’t know very well) and when she started to tell me about problems with her waterworks in my naivety I assumed she was having trouble with the hot water and wasn’t prepared to be given a detailed description of the problems she had been having with her catheter

In my family menstruation would never have been mentioned – my parents called any discussion of such things as ‘ribbon talk’.   Any reference to a specifically female medical problem was muttered about darkly as ‘women’s problems’.   Now Radio 4 devotes whole programmes to the subject.   And on television there are programmes such as Embarrassing Bodies and GPs Behind Closed Doors – I sometimes watch them with a morbid fascination.   Why, when you have a nasty looking rash on your breast or an odd shaped lump on your bottom which you say you have never shown anyone (not even your partner) would you suddenly be prepared to bare all in front of the cameras and several million viewers?   Of course it is a very good thing that men are aware of their prostates and the need to have them checked by the doctor but it doesn’t have to be done on film – does it?   Admittedly the camera is not usually at the business end but focuses on the patient’s face – a picture of stoicism, but think of your grandchildren.   And you thought seeing your father dance in public was embarrassing that is but nothing compared to seeing him discuss his piles on national television!


Yet again I’m thinking diet.   Not insane, vegan, Gwyneth Paltrow rubbish but the sensible ‘I want to lose three stone by Christmas’ type of diet.   I do realise that it is too late in the summer to try and get a beach ready body, besides, even post diet, I have a recurring nightmare of falling asleep on the sand only to be woken by people throwing buckets of water over me in an effort to refloat me under the impression that I am a stranded Beluga Whale.  

I consider myself to be a perfectly rational human being and I know that the only reason anyone is overweight is because they eat too much.   I am overweight ergo I eat too much.   I tell myself this as I eat half a pound of cheese – just because it’s there and it would be a pity to waste it.   My late husband never had to diet but he was one of those annoying people who would stop eating half way through a roast potato!   No that’s not a typo – HE STOPPED EATING HALF WAY THROUGH A ROAST POTATO.   When I asked him why he said he wasn’t hungry any more!    I have never, ever in my life stopped eating half way through a roast potato.   I’ve felt full, over-fed, bloated even, but I’ve soldiered on!   Not even when giving birth ‘’The baby’s coming!’ ‘Hang on, I’ve just got to finish this roast potato.’  Actually that’s not true, but it could have been. 

There was an article in the papers not long ago extolling the virtues of the no-Diet Diet.  That sounded good to me.   Apparently you never have to diet again, can eat as much as you like of what you like and don’t have to count calories.   On closer inspection this turns out to be a complete lie.   This zero sized woman writing it says that she doesn’t stint herself at all, she says she often indulges in two squares of dark chocolate!  My italics there!   Anyone who thinks that two squares of dark chocolate is an indulgence has obviously never understood the need to eat an entire family sized bag of Maltesers on the way back from the supermarket.  I saw a woman on television advising her size zero, super model daughter, who was fasting in order to lose a couple of grams of non-existent fat, to eat an almond if she felt faint.   An almond – a doughnut possibly, a bowl of cereal, an apple even, but one almond!  

One of the main problems is the choice we have – as a child we were forced to eat pretty disgusting food.  Boarding school provided such delightful things as rissoles (who remembers them?) – we called them grissoles with good reason.   Vegetables put on before church to make sure the whole school smelt of cabbage by lunch time.  And for pudding  we were served the ever appetising Dead Man’s Leg!   Food was more of a necessity and a punishment than a pleasure.   You won’t get down until you finished everything on your plate.   And my particular bugbear – Boiled Fish!  The very words sound unappealing.  And if we didn’t leave a clean plate it would be served up again at the next meal.   Presumably the boiled fish had to be discarded after a day or two – not even in my childhood were we poisoned just to make us obey the food rules.   Pizza, hamburgers, sushi, even interesting pasta, the staple diet of children today, didn’t exist – at least not in the home counties.   As for exotic things such as avocados, mangos, rocket none of us had ever heard of them.   Citrus – was oranges or tangerines and perhaps the occasional grapefruit,   Now there are clementines, satsumas, mandarins, pomellos, tangelos, kumquats, orangelos and so it goes on.   Cheese – well there was cheddar and Stilton at Christmas and sometimes Edam with the red wax rind that had more taste than the cheese.   There were foreign cheeses of course but going abroad was a very rare and dangerous occurrence.   I remember the farm manager’s daughter went to France for a week and came back saying that it had been terrible she had been unable to eat anything as the food was so disgusting.   No wonder we are all becoming more and more obese when we are spoilt for choice and end up having too much of everything.   Not to mention that we are completely divorced from our food.   A friend of mine was staying a few years ago when I went to the kitchen garden to get some potatoes – she was amazed as I dug them up as she has always thought that they grew on bushes.   She was a university graduate with a very high powered job.   Just last month a man asked me how many chickens I had and how many cockerels.   When I told him I didn’t have any cockerels he asked me how I got eggs!

So I’ll definitely be starting the diet next week – I’ve finished all the cheese and I certainly won’t be roasting any potatoes – I’m pretty confident that I can be a size 10 by Christmas!

Stop the World I’m trying to get off!

I have come to the conclusion that we don’t get dementia as we get older, it is the world that goes mad. There was a headline in the Daily Telegraph this week saying that a doctor had been sacked for refusing to call a six foot bearded man madam.
A friend of mine has her two grandchilden coming to stay for a few days next week. They are both in foster care and it has taken quite some doing to arrange them coming to stay for a few days, particularly as they are in separate places because they fight when they are together. The elder one, fifteen year old girl called Sophie has now decided that she wants to be boy called Leslie. Her name has been changed at school and with all the relevant authorities. The social workers tell me that it is their policy to be guided by the child. What is the matter with them? They’re dealing with children who are quite disturbed – how about them doing some of the guidance. That’s what these children need – someone to help them manoeuvre their way through the confusing minefield of modern life with it’s maze of weird internet sites telling children how to commit suicide or starve themselves almost to death in order to become the thinnest person on the planet. The younger of the two girls is with a ‘very experienced’ – my quote marks – foster mother. She told my friend the other day that she had just discovered that Thomasina didn’t break up until after she was supposed to be coming to stay with her! Is it completely unreasonable to imagine that someone who is acting in loco parentis – and being paid a great deal for this – should have a vague idea of term and holiday dates! The social orders have given dispensation for her to miss the last couple of days of school early as the is moving again. She is only 13 and she runs rings round social services. She is quite determined to return to her original town and school. Social Services said this wasn’t possible, but she is moving ever closer. She is self- harming and has an eating disorder – apparently she is getting help for this (the nature of this help is as yet unspecified although apparently the social worker did say that she thought it was a cry for help – who would have guessed that?)

The other morning I had one of those scam emails from some idiot who told me that he had hacked into my computer and not only could he now access every one of my contacts but he knew what I had been doing and what’s more he had filmed me. He was now demanding money from me or else he (I’m making the assumption that this was a man) was going to contact everyone in my address book by sending them a video of me ‘pleasuring myself’ whilst watching an adult website. I deleted it but was tempted to reply saying that if anyone out there wanted to see a 75 year old woman eating an ice-cream whilst searching for a nice pair of comfy shoes on line they would be very welcome! Whatever turns you on!

Even my old friend the Archers is having some terrible storylines at the moment. Jim Lloyd was abused by an old family friend when he was a child and he has had a complete meltdown. I don’t know what age Jim is supposed to be but he must be at least as old as me, probably older. He is of a generation that, I’m perfectly certain, would never behave like this. He seems to be having what used to be called a nervous breakdown, is now apparently referred to by the medical profession as an acute episode of psychiatric symptoms and by me as going bonkers. Be that as it may he is crying, screaming, and breaking things, from my experience someone like that would keep an episode from his childhood to himself. It may be the fashion to share everything, but there is actually merit in putting things behind you and getting on with your life. There seems to be an compulsive desire to over-share everything, which frequently means leaving your life on hold while you try to find someone to sue for something that happened twenty years ago. I simply don’t believe that this character would behave like this.

And while I’m ranting I see that a woman, who changed sex (well not entirely as you will see) and now identifies as a man – just for the record the ability to grow a beard does not make you a man, if that were the case all post-menopausal women would qualify – but back to the newspaper story! This ‘man’ has had a baby and he is now insisting that he is listed on the baby’s birth certificate as the baby’s father So this poor confused mite is going to be the first baby in the world to be born without a mother.

As for language – when I send texts to my grandchildren they laugh indulgently because I write in proper English with punctuation and words spelled out in full. I put in apostrophes. As far as they are concerned I might as well be writing ‘Prithee Sirrah and Gadzooks for all the relevance it has to their own text speak. I suppose eventually they will need to be taught ‘old people speak’ as a foreign language at school and we in turn will need a dictionary of their language. I signed my emails LOL for years until it was explained to me what it meant after I sent an email sympathising with someone on the death of their mother and signed it off LOL Stella! I accept that languages should live and change but it gets increasingly difficult to keep up and I every much doubt if our families and friends would enjoy hearing us say things like ‘Yo Bro how’s it hangin’?’ – whatever that means!
Dementia units now have old fashioned things like replica greengrocers and bus shelter to make their residents feel safe and at home with things they recognise around them – sounds quite nice – so may see you there soon.