Tag Archives: tony blair

Reasons To Be Cheerful #65: When Friends Come To Stay

8 Apr

Now that I am at least 65% real grown-up (ie: co-habiting and cleaning the house regularly) I take a different sort of pride in having people come to stay. No longer will they arrive to a dirty flat and half of my rumpled bed. These days, guests get a hoovered landing and a blow-up bed*. And while I wouldn’t – strictly speaking – compare myself to Tony Blair, Middle East peace envoy – it is clear that I’m playing my part in bridging the north-south gap.

*Those of you looking for hosting tips, please feel free to read this post in the educational manner of one reading Pippa Middleton’s party planning guide.

1. Being a Proper Person

Not that long ago, I thought that house pride was something reserved only for clean freaks and desperate housewives of telly fiction. But now, having reached the grand old age of 27, I see the error of my ways. I now know that the only acceptable way to treat a house guest is to leave a chocolate mint under their pillow. Well, that or to provide them with a clean towel and an inflatable mattress to blow up.

Call me Susan

Just call me Susan

2. Showing Off The Sights

If you read my Salford blog, you’ll know that I live in a place of wonder. A city cleverly disguised as a Manchester offshoot with a dubious cathedral and a ‘vibrant’ community. Showing off the Mocha shopping parade (home to a KwikSave) and the beautiful old cinema (now a church for Christian fanatics) are activities that are bound up with great pride. And that’s before you’ve even reached Manchester proper. London might have its fair share of crazies, but the wannabe Bez dancer with the plasticine face and killer dance moves belongs to the north.

3. Facing Domestic Challenges

The main reason that we are all so fat these days (apart from the saturated fat, kebabs and increased portion sizes) is that convenience and technology have replaced good old fashioned elbow grease. No more scrubbing wet clothes on the drying rack or burning off those kcals in the pantry. Modern kitchens will kill us all. The point is, that that amazing blow-up bed that I so proudly offered to my friends, well it was impossible to bring down. A good hour of rolling and folding and putting a teaspoon in the valve/nozzle/thingy were what it took. But I took it all in my stride.

A battle of valves

A battle of valves

4. Acting the Tourist

Even though I’m already a demi-tourist in Manchester, it’s much more fun being a ‘visitor’ when you’re with real bonafide visitors. It suddenly becomes acceptable to buy a keyring with your photo on it, from a gay club. For £3. It also provides you with a debating team for reasoned kebab shop disputes on the economic disparities between North and South.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: You can’t keep your friends in a Hole. They tend to go home)



Reasons To Be Cheerful #30: British Politicians

15 May
pryce huhne

Pryce and Huhne in happier times

This week fomer political bigwig Chris Huhne and his estranged ex-wife Vicky Pryce were released from jail early. For those of you not in the know, the former happilymarrieds took the whole ‘sharing everything’ thing a bit too far when MP Chris gave Vicky some of his driving licence points. A present maybe? Anyhoo, it got me to thinking. They may be on the whole, less attractive, less shiny and more ’embarrassing dad’ than their American counterparts, but actually, British politicians have got quite a lot going for them. Here’s the breakdown:

1. Scandal

Everyone loves a juicy scandal. It is a fact. And just look at the gems that some of Whitehall’s finest (ahem) have kindly provided us with. The above – Vicky Pryce, scorned by her Energy Secretary husband’s affair, told the courts that he had forced her to take his driving licence points. The courts disagreed. Both went down. Or what about ‘grey’ John Major? Forever remembered as the most boring of Prime Ministers, it only turned out that he’d been knobbing Edwina Currie all along! And Mr Hague – yes you William. Nobody, but nobody believes you shared a room with your 25-year old male special advisor for reasons of economy. Soz.

Hague and advisor: who says MPs can't dress?

You say he’s just a friend

2. Cashing In

Any politico worth his or her salt must know how to turn a sticky situation around.  The most common tactic normally involves a book deal. Vicky Pryce has already announced hers. And who can forget Jeffrey Archer’s seminal masterpiece, A Prison Diary? Oh, you have? Well, nevermind. Crafted out of hardship, Archer’s three volumes were written during two years of incarceration that included weekdays working at Lincoln’s Theatre Royal. That’s hard graft for you.

Putting on a brave face

Putting on a brave face

3. The Common Touch

While many of our major politicians have graduated straight out of the Bullingdon Club, there are plenty who really know how to connect with your common man on the street. UKIP – a party that can be summed up by its self description as a ‘Libertarian, non-racist party’ – has enjoyed a surge in popularity thanks to its personable leader, Nigel Farage. Undaunted by the closeness of his surname to Faberge (as in the posh egg), Nige offers the people what they want, like to ban the smoking ban and ship the foreigners out. The left too, has its fair share of ‘say it like it is’ players. Just ask the Labour supporter referred to by Gordon Brown as that ‘bigoted woman’.

Just like the common man, Nigel Farage loves a fag

Just like the common man, Nigel Farage loves a fag


British politicians are good at making friends, and they like to branch out. Just think about it. Dav Cam exchanges intimate texts and dinners with Rebekah Brooks; the Blairs were helped out by fraudster and friend, Peter Foster, and before anyone knew what a WMD was, Tone had all of Britpop round for tea. Over at the Lib Dems HQ, resounding failure Lembit Opik became such good friends with the Cheeky Girls that he decided to marry one of them. It didn’t work out.


Cheeky Girl

Don't look back in anger. There really WERE WMDs

Cheeky drink

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Tony Blair may well be the closest we ever come to a Barack Obama)

Reasons To Be Cheerful #15: Thatcher’s Funeral

17 Apr

As mentioned in a previous entry, the demise of Mrs Thatcher has already given me a few reasons to be cheerful. Now with the incessantly boring media cavalcade that is her funeral, I have several more. The guestlist includes the who’s who of unsavoury politicians, some of our more national treasure-ish celebrities; and Katherine Jenkins. I can but watch as the day – and its accompanying sycophancy – rolls on. Here’s the list:

1. Not Being Invited

Being seated with other non-politicos like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Joan Collins would be bad enough (actually, I’d quite like to sit next to Joan Collins). But just imagine if you will, the extreme awkwardness of being seated between Messrs Blair and Brown, or even worse, Brown and his wife Sarah.

gordon sarah brown

That space between us is the love we have for each other

blair and brown

Can’t we go back to the way we once were Gordo?

2. The media support for Maggie’s granddaughter

Already trending on Twitter, it’s good to see the online media getting behind 19-year-old Amanda Thatcher. The ‘inadvertent star’ of the funeral (and who knew ’til now that funerals even had stars?) has been described variously as ‘composed’, ‘poised’ and ‘funeral totty’.

amanda thatcher 2

3.  Playing The ‘Why are They There?’ Game

Jeremy Clarkson, Shirley Bassey, Michael Crawford, Terry Wogan. Did I mention Katherine Jenkins? WHY ARE THEY THERE?

Sporting funeral tan

Nice funeral tan

4. The Headwear

If political pseudo-state funerals are the go-to for next season’s fashion choices, then here we have a clear winner. Fascinators and jaunty hats – hatinators if you will, have been seen to top the head of many a funeral attendee. Just see Katherine Jenkins above for a more rudimentary look. Below are some styles with more hat in their hatinator..

thatcher fergie




Read 'em and weep

Read ’em and weep

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Just a small matter of £10,000 000)