Saturday 31st March. Pasties & Petrol.

My North Star in life has always been the desire to be utterly individual.

So it’s with some sadness that I feel compelled to get down on paper quite how disappointed (and in my vernacular, ‘disappointed’ is way worse than homicidal fury) this last couple of weeks have made me.

Let’s start with petrol and Greggs, The Bakers.

If you’re someone who woke up on Thursday and totally lost your fucking mind because your petrol tank was hovering on the three-quarter full mark, you have my sympathy. Not, obviously, because there was, at any point, during the cone-tastic, freak-fest, any discernible danger to you, your life and your limb, but because you’re a moron and you’ll believe anything you hear on TV.

Ditto hot pasties.

I, like the next man I’m sure, like nothing better than a ‘Travelling-Cappucino’ and a piping hot Cornish Pasty on a cold Saturday morning when I’m in town, doing my chores (hate chores) but people; calm the fuck down.

They’ve gone up 20p.

The Tory party are currently dismantling the NHS, the Post Office and Network Rail but add a few pence to a sausage roll and everyone, from Leeds to London, is suddenly a political critic.

Moving on and I’ve had my own share of ‘disappointment’ this week.

Three short weeks after I pitched the idea of a weekly column of ‘The Secret Diary of a Single Mum’ to the Daily Mirror, they decided to run with the idea.

The disappointment part is when you factor in that they went with a staff writer to pen it, and that they called it ‘Diary of a Single Mum’.

I’m not going to start on the similarities in style between my writing and this ‘other’ version but I’m sure you can imagine how gutting it is to see something you’ve been working on and developing for three years ‘launched’ in a tabloid newspaper as a fresh new idea.

I have also, this week, been forced to allow someone who has been an incredibly huge part of my life for six long years exit centre stage left.

A man who has, in his time variously fulfilled the roles of friend, confidante and lover.

Ultimately his fear of claiming his own greatness saw him scuttle fearfully back to a land where there’s always petrol and pasties and away from someone who actually got quite excited by the concept of a bit of a war-time type struggle with destiny and the diminishing availability of diesel.

I think maybe I was a bit ‘out there’ for him.

He’s a ‘Banker’ after all.

Nope, all round it’s been a trying week.

But after all is said and done, my desire to follow the North Star of ‘me-ness’ demands that I swallow these incredibly bitter pills and trudge on toward a better tomorrow.

I’m sure it’ll all turn out ok.

N.B – One good thing this week. I discovered a hitherto untapped total and utter love of Katy Perry.

That cheered me up, “is this a hickey or a bruise.”

Oh Katy…………

Friday 9th March. Airbags and accelerators.

I like to think that, for a bird, I’m a pretty good driver.

My first car was a mark one Golf GTi, and I’ve driven them ever since. I like the speed, the safety, the looks and the park-ability of these iconic little motors and I can’t honestly see myself giving up my mark-five, 200 bhp, garish red, dream-machine without a fight.

Sorry, did I say fight? What I mean is, you’ll have to pry the keys out of my cold, dead, lifeless fingers.

I like Top Gear, I like cars and I really, really enjoy driving them.

Having said all this, I have noticed that an unpleasant malady is beginning to infect Britain’s roads.

A condition that has, on at least five occasions this very week, caused me to shout “Don’t bloody mention it” at the top of my voice leaving Annabelle ‘scootching’ down in her seat,  covering her ears and muttering things like: “Mum, please don’t ram that woman’s car.”

My road using brethren have stopped bothering to thank me for letting them in, letting them out and several other variations on the theme.

Why is this?

What’s causing this corrosive deterioration of engine-ettiquette?

While mere manners have never been a statutory directive on the road, I have always been led to understand that they were an implied responsibility, serving to make our roads a nicer place to be.

Stuff like waiting patiently when a car is heading towards you, in your lane because there’s a car parked in theirs.

Kindly slowing down and flashing your headlights to allow cars to move out in front of you on the motorway.

Thoughtfully moving into the fast-lane to allow cars to merge with the dual-carriageway from a slip road.

The ‘one-driver-one-car’ rule that politely urges everybody in a traffic-jam to allow at least one person to nudge their way into the queue from a side road.

Not only are fewer and fewer people bothering to follow these unwritten rules but, and far more seriously in my opinion, there are a growing number of people who can’t even be bothered to raise the traditional hand and say thank you when you do take the time to remember that courtesy doesn’t cost anything.

Murderous rage doesn’t begin to express how vexed I become when I, like a total mug, sit there as some bloke ignores the fact that I’ve actually stopped to let him out of his parking space voluntarily and wheel-spins away without bothering to so much as look in my direction, let alone going to the effort of turning his arrogant frown upside down and acknowledge my patiently waiting existence.

Then there are the twenty-something-airhead-bimbos in their teeny-tiny hatchbacks that attack the road and all of the other people using it, as if they’re competing at a NASCAR rally.

They take no prisoners, no notice of the brake pedal and have only a dim recollection that their driving instructor ever mentioned that they are supposed to stay at least three inches away from the car in front of them.

They zip up behind you in third gear and with their engine screaming in agony, sit on your tail staring threateningly and unnervingly straight into your rear-view mirror until they see an opportunity to gaily stuff their vehicle into an even lower gear and, smoke pouring from their bonnets and tyres, shudder past you.

It is generally when they are just about level with you, on a hill, with you purring along at sixty miles an hour that it dawns on them that, unlike you, their little Renault only has a one litre engine and that they’re probably not actually going to manage to get past you before that articulated lorry that’s currently bearing down on them actually hits.

Leaning determinedly forward in their seats, chewing gum and peering aggressively through the spokes of their steering wheel, they simply refuse to just give up, accept they’re beat and slip back in behind you.

Nope, they were told by their hot-wiring, joy-riding, excellent influence of an older brother and his drug-dealing mates ‘off the estate’ that the art of getting from A to B is all about relying on your air-bags and your accelerator, and letting Lady-Luck handle the rest.

So this leaves you in an awkward situation, do you let the daft tart lay in her bed the way she made it and watch her vanity-plated, brand-new Citroën Saxo get flattened underneath an Eddie Stobbart lorry, or do you do the decent thing, exercise some self-control and maturity, brake and let her tuck in ahead of you?

We all know that there is obviously a clear answer to this conundrum, but my rational head tells me that it wouldn’t be fair to do that to an innocently, minding-his-own-business lorry driver, so it’s probably best, on balance, to brake.

Yep, it’s rough going out there on the roads these days and so I’m going to issue a warning, in print, to ignorant pig-people everywhere.

Next time I let you out, say thank you because my little Golf also has air-bags and I’m not at all afraid to use them either.

Monday 5th March. What fresh hell is this now….?

I think Annabelle might be on the run.

I picked her up from school on Friday night and she leapt into the car shouting ‘Go, Go, Go.

So I go-ed.

About three hundred yards along our narrow, rural High Street when the whiplash was really starting to bite, I slowed down to a more sedate eighty miles an hour and belatedly thought to ask where the frigging fire was.

Annabelle, who was slumped down in her seat cunningly disguised as her P.E Kit, poked the very top of her head out, peered fearfully over the bottom of the passenger window and hastily withdrew her head when she i-spied a gaggle of teen-kids parallel with our vehicle.

She muttered something about me shutting the windows if I want to talk to her and refused to engage in further discussion.

Fast-forward to Sunday mid-morning.

We’re walking through the apple orchard on the way to the shop so that I can pick up three Birds Eye, ‘microwave-em-in-nine-minutes-flat’ Sunday roasts for lunch,’ (I do like to make a bit of an effort on a Sunday) when she suddenly, and without any warning at all, darted into a bush.

She peered out from the depths of the gloomy foliage for a moment, then rapidly scanning the immediate environment, nervously emerged, picking twigs and other assorted crap out of her hair.

As much fun as taking a cat for a walk on a hot tin roof probably is, I have to say that the ambient level of anxiety was starting to make me want to bite her.

On arriving at the shop, which she approached with the trepidation and caution that people normally reserve for volcanoes, sharks and tax-men, it appears that the unthinkable actually went right ahead and happened.


A small boy, around the same size as Annabelle was exiting the shop as she attempted to gain entry.

Eyes wide with fear, frozen to the spot, he looked at her.

She, in turn, looked back at him.

With one swift movement, he rapidly mobilised his limbs, darted round her and emitting a piercing scream that sounded very much like ‘Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,’ ran hell for leather up the road until both his terrified howling and his Ben 10 back-pack faded into the distance, and then disappeared altogether.

I was so busy watching his retreating figure that it took me a second to realise that, disappearing over the horizon in the other direction was Annabelle.

Call me suspicious but in my experience, this can mean only one of two things.

Either my daughter has changed her name to Annabelle Soprano, and he knows that she knows that he knows, something incredibly incriminating about her.

Or she’s got herself a little boyfriend.