Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Smarts in an hourglass

Today, I'm guest posting over at http://www.beckicklesie.com/ with a little piece about the link between the fatty acids that give us our womany curves, and IQ levels.


Next time you come face-to-face with the ironing board tyranny that batters the egos of those with figures that owe more to an hourglass than a plank of wood, take heart.

Studies have shown that curvy women are likely to be brighter than our waif-like sisters – and more likely to produce intelligent offspring.

Yes! (You have to imagine me punching the air at this point). At last, scientific proof that not only is it alright, but BETTER, to be All Woman.

Apparently, the bigger the difference between a woman’s waist and hips, the better. And, speaking as your classic English pear-shape, that’s great news....

(Read on at http://www.beckicklesie.com/2010/11/smarts-in-hourglass.html)


There's a bit of a Guest Blog Festival going on right now, so head over to www.beckicklesie.com for many more words of wit and wisdom on a wide range of issues.

You won't regret it!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Let's talk about sex

The world is obsessed with it.

When it’s good, there’s nothing like it. When it’s bad, it’s just not worth the bother.

For centuries it was taboo – and now you can’t escape it.


But I think we take it all too seriously, don’t you? I mean, I’m all for it. But is it only me that thinks it is SO much better when it’s served up with a side dish of laughter?

Judging by what some memorable folk have had to say about the subject, I'm happy to report that I’m not alone:

You know ‘that look’ women get when they want sex? Me neither.
- Steve Martin

Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you better have a good hand.
- Woody Allen

Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances of a date on a Saturday night.
- Rodney Dangerfield

Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.
- George Burns

Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake whole relationships.
- Sharon Stone

My girlfriend always laughs during sex – no matter what she’s reading.
- Steve Jobs

Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is.
- Barbara Bush (an unexpected spark of wicked humour from a former First Lady)

Women need a reason to have sex. Men need a place.
- Billy Crystal

According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front of men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental, where of course men are just grateful.
- Robert De Niro

The problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.
- Robin Williams

So, don’t be afraid to giggle as you tussle under the eiderdown folks.

And, you men-folk out there, please don’t take it personally. Laughter is good (and surprisingly sexy).

You’d prefer that we cry when you whip off your Y-Fronts, maybe?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Athens Portraits: School run scramble

8am outside the local primary school.
The troops are gathering - and with them an entire support battalion.

Fathers zoom up to the gates on motorbikes with tots perched precariously on the back without the benefit of a crash helmet (but you’d better not even think of breathing a word about them being anything less than a devoted dads).

Mums heave bags packed to bursting point with books – the weight of which their little darlings couldn’t possibly shoulder (I swear those bags weigh more than the kids that have to carry them).

Grannies faff about at the baker’s shop across the road to make sure their little darlings are stocked up with pies and pastries (and enough carbohydrates to sink a battleship) to see them through the rigours of the school day.

And the cars – the cars!

Seen from above, the school gates would look more like a smashed open ants’ nest with the insects dashing here and there in a blind panic.

Vehicles swerve crazily into that parking spot (supposedly reserved for the headmistress) that ensures the sprogs will have ten paces less to take, oblivious to the hooting honking bottleneck of cars, delivery vans and buses backing up behind them. Alarm lights flash in imagined justification for total disregard of the law of the road or common civility. And on most mornings, a shiny white and blue police car is abandoned in the middle of the road – not to get things under control, but so the local Constable can deliver his son and heir safely to the playground.

This morning, a spanking new, flashy red Ferrari drew gasps of admiration and awe from pre-pubescent boys as it drew up and stopped ON the pedestrian crossing. The long-suffering lollipop lady (or crossing guard if you prefer) tried - in vain - to shame the greasy middle-aged man who emerged from the swanky sports car, but he just ignored her and carried his child across the road to the school.

It’s dog eat dog on the morning school run scramble.

I guess it’s only to be expected that the start of the school day should be a raucous affair. But, in Greece that it’s not the kids - but their parents - that are the main source of the rumpus.

How’s that for teaching by example?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Gallery: Meditation in Monochrome

Things get a little pensive and moody with the theme for this week's Gallery:
Black & White.

Removing colour from the formula draws attention to texture and contrasts in the way that might not be obvious to the eye when distracted by splashes of red, blue or green.

But I'm a sucker for colour, so I couldn't resist letting a little smidge of the stuff creep back for just one shot.

And speaking of other things I can never resist...

For more black & white images check out this week's Gallery at http://stickyfingers1.blogspot.com/2010/11/gallery-black-white.html

Monday, 22 November 2010

What's in a name?

Browsing through a road map of my homeland at the weekend, I came to the conclusion that there are some place names you could ONLY find in England.

It all started when a TV programme we were watching (imported from the BBC) mentioned a picturesque village in East Sussex called Diddling. Yes, Diddling - as in diddling the books, or perhaps even your neighbour’s wife if you’re very naughty. (Actually, it sounds like the sort of place the late, lamented Bambi Fancipants might have settled down if it hadn’t been for that unfortunate flying ice-ball incident this summer… but that’s another story.)

As I tried to explain to dear hubby, it’s nothing unusual. But he was not convinced. As Greek place names are almost always descriptive in a definable and identifiable way, he refuses to believe that certain place names from my homeland are anything more than yet more evidence of the incurable eccentricity of the English. Thinking about it, I'll admit that he may have a point.

Within just a couple of hours’ drive of where I grew up, you can visit such wonderful places as: Dorking (the ideal place to be a dork, I guess); Small Dole (where they admit that unemployment benefit is peanuts); Climping (how you walk when your new shoes have given you blisters); Crawley (as in creepy-?); Havant (as in ‘…got a clue’); Hog’s Back; Goring (think bulls); Gravesend; Foulness Island (the place where it’s cool to be foul); Braintree (which summons up a particularly gory mental image); Wittering (as in ‘stop wittering, Mandi’); Sway; Wallop (imagine being able to tell people you meet at parties ‘I’m from Wallop’?) and more than my measly road atlas can reveal…

But the truth is that we cannot hold a candle to some of the more 'out there' place names to be found across the United States. While the names of towns and villages in the UK are usually dictated by their history, the pilgrims who fled Europe and settled in America a couple of centuries ago had the luxury of picking their own place names.

In the spirit of those pious times, it was not unusual for a socially-ambitious Puritan to change his name from (say) 'John' to something far more impressive like 'Righteousness In The Face Of Adversity' Smith. So, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that the Founding Fathers came up with some (divinely?) inspired names for the towns and cities where they settled.

Perhaps the best-known - and certainly one of my favourites - is Truth or Consequences somewhere in Nevada, but there are many others great ones including Redemption, Submission or Limbo (imagine living in Limbo?).

One of these days, I really must get my act together and do that road trip across The States. Realistically, I’ll probably be in my dotage by the time I get round to it, but maybe being a loopy old dear will be well in keeping with my mission to collect the best and most eccentric place names I came across along the way.

And, after all, a country that boasts such deliciously existential road signs as “Gusty winds may exist” must have entire treasure-troves of surrealism to offer, eh?

Saturday, 20 November 2010

She came. She saw. But did she conker?

Ah, autumn.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, bringing back memories of shushing though piles of fallen leaves, rosy cheeks and frozen noses, and playing conkers in the school yard.

But did you know that the good old horse chestnut (a.k.a. conker) tree is NOT a native to Britain, but a migrant from... Greece and Albania?

And yet, somehow I can't see the Greeks embarking on the annual orgy of smashing your opponents' nuts (in the nicest possible way, of course) that generations of British schoolkids have enjoyed.

Time and time again, I have tried to explain the rules and reasoning of conkers to the Ovver Arf. He sits there patiently, giving me the indulgent look of one humouring a slightly dim but lovable child, while I try to convey my enthusiasm for scrabbling about in the wet grass to find the perfect shiny brown conker with which to annihilate my rivals' feeble offerings.

His demeanour is one of "OK, that sounds like the sort of thing you Brits would do. But why?"
To be honest, I don't have an answer.

It's just one of those things that is (or at least was) an integral part of growing up in the UK. No rhyme or reason is required - it just IS.

Just like he can't explain why Greeks traditionally fly kites on the first day of Lent, why Greek grannies tie a red and white knotted string bracelet round their grandchildren's wrists every 1st March, or why taramosalata (made from fish eggs) is allowed during the Lenten fast when both fish and eggs are forbidden.

But I digress - back to conkers.
For the unitiated, to play the game first you must find to take a large, hard conker and carefully drill a hole through it. Then thread a piece of string through the hole and knot one end. Next, find your opponent - similarly conkered up of course. And then you proceed to take it in turns to hit one another's conkers with your own. This goes on until one is one is smashed, and the status of the winner is enhanced according to how many victories it has clocked up (one-er, two-er, six-er, etc.).

That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. But it used to keep us occupied for hours.

Now, in these days of extreme Health & Safety awareness, I fear that conker fights may be a dying tradition. I have certainly heard of schools banning them (not for fear of shards of smashed nut flying into kids' eyes or bruising juvenile knuckles, but in light of possible nut allergies).

But I hope that despite the new age of precautions, and the twin siren calls of TV and games console, the autumn air in my homeland still fills with the sound of horse chestnuts cracking against each other.

As for me, I'm off to the Greek countryside in search of a conker tree in it native habitat.

I may be some time.

The Gallery: Before & After

This week (or perhaps I should say last week as I'm running a little late) Tara over at http://stickyfingers1.blogspot.com/ has set us the theme of 'Before & After' for The Gallery.

I thought long and hard about this and although I was sorely tempted to post pics of Kidling Grand at about 18 months (doing a kinda Charlie Chaplin impersonation with a big cheeky grin, Grandpa's shoes and a shoe horn as a walking stick) juxtaposed with the nearly 14-year-old reality of today (trainee oik).

But in the end I decided to be a little more ego-centre. Or perhaps I should say hair-centric.

I don't know about you, but the state of my hair is perhaps the biggest factor in how I feel about myself. On those (sadly rare) good hair days when everything falls into shiny, happy place, I feel so much better about the bags under my eyes and the spare tyres gathering around my middle section.
On bad hair days, one look in the mirror can reduce me to a quivering heap of insecurity that no amount of sassy make-up or drop-dead outfits (not that I have any) can change.

So, I was in a very good mood when I walked out of the hairdressers yesterday, having transformed this:

(BEFORE: a rather apologetic looking random barnet)

to this:

(AFTER: much happy, and sassier, I hope you'll agree.)

So, at least until my hairdresser's magic wears off, you can call me Your Royal Hairness.

Friday, 19 November 2010


My experiences as a transplanted Brit that has re-rooted in Greece make up some of the material that feeds the varied waffling that makes up this blog. I'm keen to read the experiences of other ex-pats who have settled far from home, so have connected with a few other transplantees through their blogs.

To make things easier for me (I'm know, I'm lazy), I have created a collection of some of these blogs, hosting their posts (and including links to their blogs) in a single collective site which I have called http://transplanted.collected.info

Why not pop over and take a look - and if you like what you see, go to the individual blogs featured to get in touch with the writers.

And if you have any ideas for other blogs we could or should add to the feed, let me know!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Excuse me?

These days, allergies are everywhere. Every Tom, Dick and Harriet seems to be either lactose intolerant, gluten-adverse or at constant risk of puffing up like a prawn cracker dropped into boiling oil. No wonder packs of peanuts now feel the need to carry the dire warning "May contain nuts".

But perhaps the most unavoidable allergy is the one I suffer from.
Prepare the melancholy violin solos, dear reader, for I - tragically - am allergic to jargon.

My nemesis (and it's even more outragous and incomprehensible cousin, gobbledygook) is EVERYWHERE. There's no getting away from it.

It's official definition is "the specialised language of a professional, occupational or other group, often meaningless to others". And that's the problem. Once limited to small cliques who all knew - or pretended they knew - what they were talking about, it has now spilled over into everyday life, where is it even more meaningless.

Local authorities, Government departments, utility companies (that's the gas, water and electricity boards to you and me) and private corporations are among the worst offenders, adding further confusion to a life that is bewildering enough as it is.

Speaking and writing is supposed to be about communicating information, ideas and emotions. Jargon does the opposite - it excludes. And worse, it's used as verbal padding to disguise the fact that the speaker really has nothing of substance to say.

The rot probably really set in a couple of decades ago when Personnel Departments at companies around the world winked out of existance to be replaced by mysteriously scientific -sounding "Human Resources" (am I the only one to feel that phrase has sinister Orwellian overtones?).

Now, as we come to the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, Receptionists will give way to "First Impressions Executives", "down-sizing" means you're out of a job mate, and height has been shoved aside by "verticality".

Business meetings are scattered with dreadful phrases like "think outside the box" (now so firmly IN the box it seems to have been super-glued in place), "the big picture", "win-win situation", "one-stop shop", "leveraging our capabilities", "paradigm shift", "benchmarking", "Maximising our synergies", "ring-fencing our weaknesses"... the list goes on.
And on, and on.

I can't be the only one to sit through meetings, fighting the urge to leap onto the conference table, tearing at my hair and screaming "What are you talking about? What are you saying? Cut the crap and tell us what you mean!"
You've all had that moment... haven't you?

Some choice examples of corporate double-speak include:

"the diaper universe"
(that's Ad Man talk for babies)

"Passenger shoe repatriation area"
(Notice spotted a couple of years ago at Gatwick Airport showing where to go to to collect your shoes after your security check. To their credit, BAA - who then owned and ran the place - removed it after The Plain English Campaign pointed out its absurdity)

"capitalise on discontinuous change with an intense sense of urgency"
(your guess is as good as mine)

"a degree of autonomy with processes in place to sandbox our activity within acceptable constraints"
(Sandbox? Are we talking playtime at the kindergarten or cat litter?
My money's on the latter)

"The results of the price barometer illustrate that the reprieve in the pace of price inflation evident in the first quarter has abated"
(Erm, I THINK that means prices are rising again after slowing January-March. I think. Oh, I give up)

But beware, none of us are immune. Despite my own aversion to jargon, I'm sure some Smart Alec will point out that everything I write is littered with goobledygook.

That's just the problem. Despite our best intentions, it creeps up on us, wheedling its way into our consciousness. Anyone with a computer or a mobile phone (which is just about everyone except my Aunt Daisy, who lives in a commune in Cornwall and knits her own organic underwear) is at immediate risk of infection.

Text talk (or should that be TXT TLK?) is useful as it helps us fit in as much as possible in our 140-character Tweets, but it is starting to replacing real language and robbing us of the ability to string a sentence together. That's why I avoid LOL, IMO, LMAO, OMG and ROFL (though I do use FYI and BTW).
Most of us know what they mean, don't we? But what about CYA, HTH and MOTD?

So, pity the poor allergy sufferer with no anti-histamine to offer relief. I too carry the virus (which means I'm allergic to myself). And though I try to use blue sky thinking and sing from the same old hymn sheet, I suspect it's a done deal and I am in a no-win universe...

Monday, 15 November 2010

Happily Ever After?

We all love Happy Endings, don't we? I can't be the only one that spins out Happily Ever After conclusions to what's happening in my life, sometimes forgetting to enjoy the moment I'm in.

The trouble with "Happily Ever After" is that they are precisely NOT what they claim to be. There must be something that comes after the Happy Ending - we just never hear about it.

So, in my quest for the truth (the Public has a right to know, you know), this occasional investigative journalist has dug deep to bring you the news of what happened after some of our better-known Happily Ever Afters:

Years of therapy have had only limited benefits for this former child performer, now in his late 40s. He now - finally - considers himself "A Real Boy" but continues to have body image issues and pines for the carefree days of his firm-bodied youth. Convinced that his nose is too big (at least some of the time), he is in discussions with several plastic surgeons about the possibility of transplanting the nasal tissue to another part of his body.

Most of her friends abandoned her when they were in their 20s, unable to tolerate her relentless optimism and insistence that they look on the bright side every time their hearts were broken. After hitting the menopause, she sunk into a depression and now needs a handful of Prozac to even think "I'm glad".

Snow White
Well, her Prince did come all those years ago, but there are times when she wishes he would go away again - or at least get out out of the armchair and do the dishes. Life is hard enough for her with a fat, balding, unemployable Heir to the Throne (will his mother NEVER die?) snoring in front of the TV, without her seven small but very demanding permanent houseguests. Sometimes she wishes she had eaten the whole apple. While it's good to keep in touch with her friends from before her marriage, she's had enough of the whole "surrogate mother" gig.

Years of obsessive brushing, braiding and supporting suitors clambering up walls have taken their toll on Rapunzel's flowing locks. After one particularly tearful break-up, she shaved her head and spent a year in a bobble hat to cover the grey stubble that grew back. Now considering having extensions added.

Yes, she got her Prince - but her ugly step-sisters are still trying to get into his pants. They have had gastric bands fitted, Botox injected and spray tan applied. Traumatised after catching the three of them in a drunken orgy, Cinders turned to junk food for comfort. The only thing the glass slipper fits these days is her little finger.

Changed his name by deedpoll to Kenneth.

Dick Whittingdon
Now lives alone with his cat, never leaving the house, plotting the fall of London Town and sticking pins into effigies of Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson.

The Famous Five
Once inseparable, Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the Dog rarely see each other these days. George finally had the op. Dick and Anne have set up home together and moved to a remote village where no-one knows they're brother and sister. Julian hit the hippy trail and fried his brain in Kathmandu. Timmy the Dog is now a leading Reality TV star.

Pippi Long Stocking
Now making a good living as a pole dancer in a Moscow nightclub. Her signature striped stockings, plaits and freckles are a key part of her act (very popular with the Dirty Mac Brigade lurking in the darkest corners of the club).

Stig of the Dump
Has opened his own home improvement and decorating business.

The Borrowers
Facing an uncertain future after calling in the receiver and declaring bankruptcy.

So, maybe there really is no such thing a Happy Ending, after all?
Just "the continuing story"....


(Confession: This post is a bit of a cheat, as it's a repeat of one I did about a year ago. However, I decided to repost it after a rather silly discussion with old school mates sparked a "Famous Five" discussion - complete with lashings of ginger beer!)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

World in a raindrop - The Gallery: Seasons

Here in Greece, we don't get much rain during the long, hot summer so by the time early autumn swings by, Mother Nature is gasping for a drink. And when the rain does eventually come, it sits like diamonds in the nooks and crannies of leaves.

True, we don't have the spectacular sight of whole forests of flame coloured maples and oaks and I still miss shooshing through the fallen leaves while hunting for the best conkers - but the autumn showers does treat us to a few worlds in a raindrop.


This post is my latest offering to The Gallery in which the lovely Tara at http://stickyfingers1.blogspot.com sets us themes for a photo essay every week.
I'm slightly amiss in joining in every week, but surely you must know by now - I mean well, but....

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tag this!

We all do it, don't we?
I know I do, despite my protestations and best intentions.

For some reason, humans seem to have a deep-seated need to label themselves. Whether it's because we want to 'belong', or stand out from the crowd, or simply to make ourselves feel somehow special, we all tag ourselves with labels that define who we are and how we want the world to see us.

Human nature I guess, and perfectly natural. After all, who doesn't want to belong, stand out or be special?

But what puzzles me is why we all seem to feel the need to drop those labels into conversations at every opportunity.

It's fair enough when someone says "As an educator, I question the value of competitive teaching", after all it is entirely relevant to the subject.

But if I was to say to you: "As an atheist, I like cake", you'd probably give me more than a sideways look. After all, since when did non-believers have a monopoly of scrummy baked goods?

How does being a parent/Christian/vegan/geek/artist/eco warrier/lesbian/PTA chairman/Chief Rabbi make your opinion about the best anti-freeze to put in our cars as the winter chill closes any more valid than the rest of humanity's?
It doesn't.

We know that, we're not stupid. But we all keep doing it. Preaching our own little sermon and announcing our speciality at the drop of a hat - even when it's entirely unrelated.

Anyone who has read more than a couple of lines of this blog will know that I'm 1) English 2) living abroad 3) a non-meat eater 4) married with a teenage son 5) juggling work with family 6) battling the bulge 7) stuggling to make ends meet 8) a bit of a foody.... and a whole lot more.

That's quite a list for a Baby Boomer (Tag No.9) who claims to hate being labelled, eh?

We just can't help it. Even if we manage to avoid starting every other sentence with "As a mother...", we can't seem to stop ourselves from dropping (not so) subtle hints when we Tweet our lunch menus - "Mmmm, veggy chilli. Nom nom" (guilty, as charged) - or so-called self-deprecating remarks - "I'm such a geek".

So, maybe it's time to stop slapping tags on ourselves (and everyone else)... ...or at least coming up with a few new ones?

From now on I'm gonna stop thinking of myself as a big-boned, middle class, working mum with a Radio 4 fixation.

No, I'm gonna be a web-footed, ambidextrous, bossed-eyed eco warrior with penchant for truffles.

Just gimme a moment to climb out of my box...
...and into my new one.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The science of the bleedin' obvious

After considering the world-scattering revelation that chocoloate produces a stronger and longer buzz than a passionate kiss (depends on the chocolate, or the kiss, I s'pose), I've been thinking about those scientific findings that hit the tabloid headlines every now and again.

If you believe the likes of the Daily Mail et al, scientists seem to spend most of their time and mountains of research grant money on detailed studies that come to conclusions about things we already know.

Another one that sticks in my mind is the finding that "Modern life puts stress on the heart".

No shit, Sherlock.
I'll have to pass on this news to my Ovver Arf, though I think he may have a sneaking suspicion, having suffered a minor heart attack brought on by extreme stress - not caused my me, I hasten to add - at the tender age of 39.

I wonder what will be next?
That we feel more positive when the sun is shining and birds are singing?
That water is good for you?
Or that regular bowel movements help prevent bloating?

Now, I'm pretty sure that the boffins of the world actually spend most of their time on things way beyond stuff I have already worked out by using my own common sense or general knowledge.
I just wish they'd tell us.
Or more to the point, I wish the headline writers would tell us.

I want to know the secrets of the Universe, the winning number for the lottery (just once will do), how to make maximum profit with minimum effort, or how to REALLY banish baggy eyes and cellulite - for ever (yeah, right).

So, let's give the news of the bleeding obvious a wide berth for the meantime. Well, at least until they can tell us the Meaning of Life and we can finally relax with a nice cup of tea and the perfect dunking biscuit (identified by a special study using a complex chemical formula, of course).

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

An object of desire? I should cocoa!

Chocolate. Don't you just love it?

Actually, we crave it. Lust after it. And when we forsake the diet and let our basest instincts run rampage, we're quite happy to get publicly orgasmic about it.

Possibly the best thing ever to cross the Atlantic, it's a classic case of "If it feels THIS good, it must be bad for me".

But the good news is that it's not. In fact, in moderation, it's downright good for us!

In it's purest form, it's packed with cancer-beating anti-oxidants, and has some properties that can drive your cholesterol and blood pressure levels down.

Every woman knows about chocolate's 'feel good factor' as a result of the hefty dose of mood-enhancing endorphins (or 'them dolphins' as my brilliantly batty old neighbour used to call them) and boosts seratonin levels too. Another known seratonin-booster is chilli, so handle those high cocoa solid posh chocs flavoured with chilli with care - or you may just explode with happiness!

It should have come as no surprise when eminent scientists announced a couple of years back that chocolate produces a more intense and longer-lasting buzz than a passionate kiss (the result of yet another lengthy scientific study to add to "Things we already know" - Doh!).

I'm willing to bet that the scientist in charge of the study was a man, single, and had never spent much time in female company. If he had a wife, partner, daughter or female flatmate, he would have reached his conclusions MUCH faster.

The feel-good factor doesn't stop at the chemical level, oh no. It works on all the senses.

Think of that creamy, velvety sensation spreading across your palate, coupled with the unmistakable rich sweet smell as it melts in your mouth. And with the only gloop involved being those gorgeous cocoa solids dissolving on your tongue, a chocolate fix is a much tastier and less messy than getting physical. It involves less effort too.

What REALLY surprises me is that many men naven't twigged to the fact that given the choice between some of Belgium's best and a roll in the hay, most of us girls would have to give it some serious thought - and be tempted by the likes of Johnny Depp, George Clooney or whoever our choice of fantasy happens to be - before opting for a bit of slap and tickle over our favourite sweet treat.

Men, bless 'em, just don't get it. Chocolate doesn't seem to have the same chemical effect on them. I guess all that testosterone must give them some kind of choc immunity along with other caveman-like characteristics. They
're touchingly gullible on the subject, so they're lucky that most of us are not soul-sistahs of Cruella deVil, cos we can (when so inclined) literally wrap them around our little fingers for the sake of a square or two of Dairy Milk.

Case in point. As a teenager, I suffered from slight asthma. One winter evening, I had a mild attack when out with my boyfriend and I didn't have my inhaler with me. Playing the sympathy vote - and with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek - I looked up at him with big doe eyes and told him in my most pathetic helpless female voice "Chocolate sometimes helps".
To my amazement, he obediently trotted off in search of the nearest bar of Bourneville. I was so surprised, I nearly fell off my bar stool laughing (nearly, but not quite - that would have given the game away and cost me my choccy treat).

Of course, not all women are like me.

Some, like my lifelong friend Ffynella the Fragrant are restrained, disciplined and dignified.
Until a Chocolate Sundae appears on the horizon...

...Once she gets a whiff of the chocolate sauce, you'd better make way as Hurricane Ffynella roars across the table and dives in face-first, and only emerges after ten minutes of ecstatic noises that could make her a fortune on the phone-sex lines.

So, it's official. Chocolate beats sex.

But as they're both pretty good, I think we should let our menfolk keep thinking that they're all we really want, while we continue to smile sweetly at them as we fantasise about a Cadbury's Flake.


This post is inspired by Table 2 of "Oui Chef!" at www.beckicklesie.com. November's theme is - surprise, surprise - chocolate, in celebration of Becca's birthday at the end of the month. So check out other entries if you feel the need of some vicarious choc-induced indulgence.

Don't take tea way from me!

I'm as mad as hell, and I ain't gonna take it no more!

How dare they?
Tea has been hijacked - by rampant, rabid, right-wing (or whinge-ing?) Americans.

Whatever happened to the genteel, reviving brew that gets me through my days and sums up memories of my Nana's silver teapot, tea cosies, porcelain cups (with saucers) and homemade shortbread?

Can someone PLEASE tell the folks from the Tea Party movement that the almonds in my mum's own recipe fruitcake are the only nuts I want with MY cuppa.

Thank you, very much.